Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd was shot and killed in an incident overnight in Atlanta, Georgia, according to news reports breaking on Sunday afternoon.
The actor — who most notably appeared in multiple Spike Lee films — was apparently pronounced dead due to multiple gunshot wounds in the back after an unknown incident that occurred around 1:45 a.m. on Saturday in the Atlanta area.
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According to TMZ, Atlanta PD officers responded to a call of “a person injured” early Saturday morning, where they found Byrd unresponsive after having been shot multiple times. Emergency medical workers attempted to save his life but apparently could not, and he was soon pronounced dead.
The Georgia city’s homicide detectives are now investigating the case, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but it appears police are being tight-lipped about the circumstances surrounding Byrd’s death and themselves may not yet have a ton of information about what led to the shooting, or who else was around and involved in those fateful moments.
Lee was the first person to announce Byrd’s death on social media, letting people know what happened early Sunday morning with a series of mournful posts on Instagram, as you can see (below):
As you can see from what Lee mentions in that post, Byrd was featured in quite a few of the famous filmmaker’s joints, most notably including work in Bamboozled, He Got Game, Clockers, Red Hook Summer, and others.
Byrd had also been a longtime successful theater actor working all over the country, including on Broadway. There, in 2003, he was nominated for a Tony Award for his work in a revival of August Wilson‘s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom. More recently, he starred in the San Diego Repertory Theater‘s award-winning production of Spunk, according to TMZ.
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Byrd, who was 70 years old when he passed, was born in Griffin, Georgia and earned a degree from Morris Brown College before moving to the West Coast and finishing his education at the California Institute of the Arts. From there, his acting career was prolific and successful for decades, including with his work on many of Spike Lee’s iconic and memorable films.
Our thoughts and prayers are with Lee, as well as with the rest of Byrd’s family, friends, and loved ones, and those who have worked closely with him over his long, impactful acting career. Such a sad, sad situation. Rest in peace, Thomas Jefferson Byrd…
[Image via WENN/Avalon]