Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, best known for his roles in Spike Lee films, has been shot dead in Atlanta, US.
The police received a call at about 1.45am which informed that the 70-year-old was found unresponsive with multiple gunshot wounds in his back. Paramedics pronounced Byrd dead at the scene on the city’s south-west side, where he lived.
In an Instagram post on 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.
Byrd, 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,” the Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis tweeted. “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”, said a fellow actor and community activist. “He was a special person whose personality filled up the whole room when he entered you knew he was there. He fought his way through this very racist and difficult Hollywood system and was able to maintain a career through it all.”