Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known for his many roles in Spike Lee Films, was shot and killed Saturday on the south-west side of Atlanta, where he resided.
The incident occurred around 1:45 a.m. According to a statement by police spokesman Anthony Grant, officers responded to a call for an injured person, and upon arrival, they found the actor unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds to his back. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
Grant declined to provide further details on the incident, however, said that homicide detectives are working to determine the cause of the shooting.
On Sunday, Lee took to Instagram to announce Byrd’s death and honor Byrd’s work, saying he “did his thang” in all his films, including Clockers, Chi-raq, Bamboozled, He Got Game, and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, just to name a few.
“May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family,” Lee wrote. “Rest in peace, Brother Byrd.”
Byrd was also a stage actor for the Broadway show, Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, with co-stars Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S Dutton, which was nominated for a Tony in 2003.
Oscar-winning actress Viola Davis tweeted, “Loved working with you Byrd, what a fine actor you were. So sorry your life ended this way. Praying for your family.”
Fellow actor and community activist Elisabeth Omilami told WXIA-TV Atlanta that Byrd was a “brilliant dancer, actor, and friend.” She said, “He was a special person whose personality filled up the whole room; when he entered, you knew he was there. He fought his way through this very racist and difficult Hollywood system and was able to maintain a career through it all.”
Omilami said that he had just finished the film Freedom’s Path with her husband, Actor Afemo Omilami.
“What a man, what a talent … what a crazy loss,” actor Lori Petty wrote.