Veteran Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd Shot Dead at 70

Veteran actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who appeared in several of director Spike Lee’s films, has been killed. Police discovered the 70-year-old had died from multiple gunshot wounds to the back after they responded to a call in the early hours of Saturday morning in the southwest side of Atlanta, where Byrd lived, police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant said in a statement to CBS News.

Homicide detectives have launched an investigation to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting, he added.

Lee shared the news in a post to Instagram on Sunday.

“I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta, Georgia,” he captioned a black and white image of Byrd as “the frightening character of Errol Barnes” in the 1995 crime drama “Clockers.”

“Tom Is My Guy,” Lee continued, adding that Byrd “did his thang” in his various other films including the crime musical “Chi-Raq” (2015), the romantic thriller “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” (2014), and the 2012 drama “Red Hook Summer.” He also appeared in the 2000 drama “Bamboozled” and sports drama “He Got Game” (1998).

In addition to his expansive career in film, Byrd also carved a name for himself in theatre. He appeared in numerous stage productions including the San Diego Repertory Theater’s award-winner “Spunk,” according to IMDB. His work earned him a nomination for Broadway’s 2003 Tony Award as Best Actor for a revival of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” which co-starred Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton.

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