Thomas Jefferson Byrd, star of Spike Lee movies, is shot dead in Atlanta

Ben Arnold
·Contributor
·2-min read

Watch: Thomas Jefferson Byrd, actor in Spike Lee films, fatally shot in Atlanta

Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who starred in a number of Spike Lee movies, has been shot and killed in Atlanta, police have confirmed.

He was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back after officers were called to an incident in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Variety.

Byrd was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 70.

The Atlanta Police Department confirmed that an investigation into the incident has begun.

Lee took to Instagram to pay tribute to the actor on hearing the news.

“I’m so sad to announce the tragic murder of our beloved brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd last night in Atlanta, Georgia,” the director said.

“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. May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family. Rest in peace brother Byrd.”

Byrd began his acting career in repertory theatre in San Diego, and earned a Tony nomination for his role in the 2003 Broadway revival of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 02:  (L-R) Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Spike Lee  "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" Broadway Opening Night at Longacre Theatre on August 2, 2012 in New York City.  (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
Thomas Jefferson Byrd (left) and Spike Lee. (Johnny Nunez/WireImage)

Prior to that, he starred as Errol Barnes in Lee's 1995 movie Clockers, the first movie they would make together.

Roles in Lee’s Girl 6, Get On The Bus and more recently Red Hook Summer and 2015's Chi-Raq followed, alongside a regular spot as Stokely in Lee's Netflix serialised reboot of She's Gotta Have It.

Byrd also starred in movies like Warren Beatty's 1998 political satire Bulworth and Ray, the Oscar-winning biopic of Ray Charles, alongside Jamie Foxx.

His last credited role was in the Jordan Peele comedy series The Last O.G., alongside Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.

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