Spike Lee pays tribute to actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, shot dead in Atlanta

Viola Davis and Wendell Pierce have also shared tributes

Thomas Jefferson Byrd, best known for his frequent collaborations with director Spike Lee, has died aged 70, with the director paying tribute.

The actor, whose credits included Lee films such as Clockers, Bamboozled and Chi-Raq, was found over the weekend after police were called to a home in Atlanta.

They found an unresponsive man, who was pronounced dead by paramedics from multiple gunshot wounds to the back, Atlanta police spokesperson Anthony Grant confirmed (via USA Today).

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Grant added that homicide detectives were “working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident”.

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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.πŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ™πŸΏπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œπŸ’œ

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Since the news broke, Lee himself has shared a tribute to Byrd, and described his death as a “murder” on his Instagram page.

“Tom Is My Guy,Here Below You See Him As The Frightening Character Errol Barnes In CLOCKERS,” he captioned the picture.

“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.”

Spike Lee and Thomas Jefferson Byrd
Spike Lee and Thomas Jefferson Byrd. CREDIT: Getty/Johnny Nunez

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The director also shared a number of clips of Byrd’s work, while other stars including The Wire‘s Wendell Pierce and Viola Davis posted tributes as well.

“Brave, funny, creative, country, smooth, expressive, and a joy to be around,” Pierce tweeted. “He will be remembered for those iconic moments in films that make up a unique canon in American cinema. Another soulful brother gone.”

Davis added: “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.”

As well as his work on film, including a role in 2004’s Ray, Byrd also worked on stage, earning a Tony Award nomination for Best Featured Actor in a Play for 2003’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.

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