ATLANTA—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.
“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.
“Loved working with you Byrd,” she wrote. “What a fine actor you were. So sorry your life ended this way. Praying for your family.”
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.
She said Byrd had just recently finished his last film, “Freedom’s Path,” with her husband, actor Afemo Omilami.