Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd shot and killed in Atlanta

ATLANTA (AP) — Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known for his roles in Spike Lee films, has been shot and killed in Atlanta, police said Sunday.

Police responded to a call around 1:45 a.m. Saturday and found the 70-year-old Byrd unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds in his back, police spokesman Officer Anthony Grant said in a statement.

Responding paramedics pronounced him dead at the scene on the city’s southwest side, where he lived.

Grant said homicide detectives were working to determine the circumstances surrounding the shooting and declined to provide further details.

In an Instagram post Sunday, Lee said he was sad to announce Byrd’s death and recalled how the actor “did his thang” in his films including “Clockers,” “Chi-Raq,” “Bamboozled,” “He Got Game” and “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus,” among others.

I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta,Georgia. 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.???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????

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“May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family,” Lee wrote. “Rest in peace, Brother Byrd.”

Lee also shared some of his favorite scenes with Byrd from “Clockers” and “Bamboozled.”

Byrd, also a stage actor, was nominated in 2003 for a Tony for his performance in the Broadway revival of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” co-starring Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton.

Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis tweeted: “Oh no!!! 2020! Whaaattt!!!”

“Loved working with you Byrd,” she wrote. “What a fine actor you were. So sorry your life ended this way. Praying for your family.”

17 PHOTOSActor Thomas Jefferson ByrdSee GalleryActor Thomas Jefferson ByrdNEW YORK, NY – JUNE 23:Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends “Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus” cast and crew special screening after party at Hudson Hotel on June 23, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)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)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 23:(L-R) Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Spike Lee, and Elvis Nolasco attend “Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus” cast and crew special screening after party at Hudson Hotel on June 23, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 22:Thomas Jefferson Byrd (R) attends “Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus” world premiere during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at SVA Theater on June 22, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Founder of the Black Film Festival, Nicole Friday (L) and actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd attend the “Spike Lee…Ya Dig!” career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)NEW YORK – AUGUST 09:(EXCLUSIVE ACCESS)(L-R) Actors Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Shane McRae pose for pictures at the rehearsals for the upcoming play “Red Herring” which is produced by American Idol finalist Katherine McPhee at The Players Theatre on August 9, 2006 in New York City.(Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the “Spike Lee…Ya Dig!” career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)NEW YORK – AUGUST 09:(EXCLUSIVE ACCESS)(L-R) Actors Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Shane McRae rehearse for the upcoming play “Red Herring” which is produced by American Idol finalist Katherine McPhee at The Players Theatre on August 9, 2006 in New York City.(Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the “Spike Lee…Ya Dig!” career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the “Spike Lee…Ya Dig!” career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – JUNE 21:Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the “Spike Lee…Ya Dig!” career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City.(Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 22:Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd enters the “Middle Of Nowhere” Closing Night Premiere – 2012 Urbanworld Film Festival at AMC 34th Street on September 22, 2012 in New York City.(Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 06: Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the “Red Hook Summer” premiere at the DGA Theater on August 6, 2012 in New York City.(Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 02:(L-R) Tonya Lewis-Lee, Spike Lee and Thomas Jefferson Byrd attend “Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth” Broadway Opening Night at Longacre Theatre on August 2, 2012 in New York City.(Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)Up Next

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Byrd was a “brilliant dancer, actor, and friend,” Elisabeth Omilami, a fellow actor and community activist, told WXIA-TV in Atlanta.

“He was a special person whose personality filled up the whole room when he entered you knew he was there,” she said. “He fought his way through this very racist and difficult Hollywood system and was able to maintain a career through it all.”

She said Byrd had just recently finished his last film, “Freedom’s Path,” with her husband, actor Afemo Omilami.

Actor Lori Petty tweeted: “What a man, what a talent … what a crazy loss.”

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