Thomas Jefferson Byrd, an actor who appeared in many of director Spike Lee's films, was killed in Atlanta on Saturday and was found with multiple gunshot wounds, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed. Lee announced Byrd's death on Instagram Sunday morning, including an image from the film Clockers. Byrd also starred in Lee's Get on the Bus, Bamboozled, Red Hook Summer, and Chi-Raq. He was 70.
Atlanta police were called to an address on Belvedere Avenue at 1:45 a.m. Saturday, police told Variety. Officers found Byrd lying unresponsive at the location. Emergency medical services identified Byrd and pronounced him dead. He was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back. Homicide detectives are now investigating the case and little information was available on the circumstances.
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Lee broke the news of Byrd's death himself. "I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta, Georgia," Lee wrote. "Tom Is My Guy, Here Below You See Him As The Frightening Character Errol Barnes In CLOCKERS. Brother Byrd Also Did His Thang In My Joints- CHI-RAQ, SWEET BLOOD OF JESUS, RED HOOK SUMMER, BAMBOOZLED, HE GOT GAME, GET ON THE BUS, GIRL 6 And CLOCKERS." Lee later shared two scenes featuring Byrd in Clockers.
Byrd's other film credits include Bulworth, Boycott, Ray, and Brooklyn's Finest. He also performed on stage, starring in Atlanta and Broadway productions of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. His other stage credits include Spunk, The Piano Lesson, Flyin' West, and Darker Face of the Earth. In 2004, he appeared in an episode of Law & Order: Criminal Intent.
Jay Washington, who starred in Chi-Raq, shared a tribute to Byrd on Twitter with a photo of the two actors with Lee. "Rest In Peace to the legendary Thomas Jefferson Byrd seen here with me and the iconic Spike Lee," Washington wrote. "I had the honor of working with Mr. Byrd in Chi-raq but enjoyed much of his work SHE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, SET IT OFF, 'N— is a beautiful thing' in BAMBOOZLED and so much more."
"So tragic. His monologue in Clockers with Meki Pheif still gives me chills every time I watch it. [A] truly talented actor," one fan wrote on Lee's Instagram page. "You have got to be kidding me. I can't. RIP not one more time this year," another wrote.