Thomas Jefferson Byrd, a Tony-nominated actor also famous for characters in several Spike Lee films, was found shot to death in an Atlanta road, the police said Sunday.
Thomas Jefferson Byrd, a Tony Award-nominated celebrity best known onscreen for his roles in several Spike Lee movies, was killed Saturday in Atlanta at age 70, Atlanta police confirmed to USA TODAY.
Police were dispatched to a home in Atlanta in 1:45 a.m. local time Sunday, where they found that an unresponsive person, later identified as Byrd. Paramedics pronounced him dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the back, Atlanta police spokesperson Anthony Grant told USA TODAY.
Homicide detectives are”working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident,” Grant added.
Craig Wyckoff, Mr. Byrd’s friend and former agent, stated on Sunday that he had spoken with a”circle of friends” who stated that Mr. Byrd had gotten into an argument with someone at a store which”that person needs to have followed him home.” The police said the situation was under investigation and declined to confirm that account.
In a series of articles to Instagram, Mr. Lee said that he was”So Sad to Announce The Dramatic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother” and emphasized Mr. Byrd’s characters in movies like”Clockers” (1995),”Chi-Raq” (2015) and”Bamboozled” (2000).
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Mr. Byrd also appeared in the 1996 film”Set It Off” and was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award for his part in a Broadway revival of”Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” by August Wilson. (A television adaptation is coming to Netflix, starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, who died in August.)
“Loved working with you Byrd,” Ms. Davis wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “What a fine actor you’re. So sorry your life ended this way.”
Byrd was born in Griffin, south of Atlanta, based on IMDb. He received a bachelor’s degree from Morris Brown College in Atlanta and a master’s degree from the California Institute of the Arts.
Byrd was a stage actor, based on IMDb. As a movie actor, Byrd worked with director Spike Lee on many projects including”He Got Game,””Get on the Bus” and”Clockers,” Lee said in an Instagram post. “May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd.”