Thomas Jefferson Byrd
Credit: Paul Zimmerman/WireImage

Thomas Jefferson Byrd, an actor who appeared in numerous Spike Lee movies, was killed in Atlanta on Saturday, the Atlanta Police Department confirmed to EW. He was 70.

Police officers were dispatched to 2259 Belvedere Ave. responding to a call about an injured person at 1:45 a.m on Saturday. Upon arrival, units found Byrd lying unresponsive at the location. Emergency medical services responded to the scene and pronounced Byrd dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the back.

Homicide detectives responded to the scene and are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. The investigation continues at this time. APD also told EW that the information is preliminary in nature and could change as the investigation progresses or new information comes to light.

On Sunday, Lee shared on Instagram the tragic news about Byrd, who appeared in Chi-Raq, Clockers, He Got Game, and many more of his films.

“I’m so sad to announce the tragic murder of our beloved brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd last night in Atlanta, Georgia," the director wrote. "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 also appeared in films like F. Gary Gray's 1996 movie Set It Off, Antoine Fuqua's 2009 flick Brooklyn's Finest, the Lee-created Netflix series She's Gotta Have It, and The Last O.G. in 2020. An accomplished stage actor, he also scored a Tony Award nomination for Best Actor in 2003 for a revival of August Wilson's Ma Rainey's Black Bottom. 

Viola Davis also reacted to Byrd's death, tweeting, "Oh no!!! 2020! Whaaattt!!! Loved working with you Byrd. What a fine actor you were. So sorry your life ended this way. Praying for your family. So very sorry."

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