Tony nominated actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, best known or playing his many roles in Spike Lee’s films, was found killed in Atlanta. He was 70 years old.
According to media reports, Byrd stopped responding early Sunday morning. Paramedics pronounced him dead when they found multiple gunshot wounds in his back.
Byrd worked frequently with Lee and appeared in eight of his films, including Clockers, Get on the Bus, Girl 6, He Got Game, Bamboozled, Red Hook Summer, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, and Chi-Raq. He also appeared in the Netflix adaptation of Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. His films also include the 1996 crime drama Set It Off and the Oscar-winning Ray.
A graduate of Morris Brown College in Atlanta, Byrd made his Broadway debut in the revival of Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom with Whoopi Goldberg, Carl Gordon, Charles S. Dutton and Stephen McKinley Henderson. He received a Tony nomination for his performance in the play.
Lee took to Instagram to pay tribute to Byrd and posted several videos of the actor. “I am so sad to announce the tragic murder of our beloved brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd last night in Atlanta, Georgia,” Lee wrote. “Tom is my type.” Lee posted videos of Byrd’s dazzling performance as Errol Barnes in Clockers and a clip of him as Honeycutt in Bamboozled.
“May we all wish his family condolences and blessings. Rest in peace, Brother Byrd, ”added Lee.
Check out the videos below.