ATLANTA - Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, known for his roles in Spike Lee films, has been shot and killed in Atlanta, police said Sunday.
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 Zimmerm
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.
“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.”
FILE - (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. (Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
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."
Actor Lori Petty tweeted: “What a man, what a talent ... what a crazy loss.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.