Spike Lee pays tribute to Thomas Jefferson Byrd who was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds to the back

Sharing a black and white picture of young Byrd, Lee wrote: 'I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd In Atlanta, Georgia'


                            Spike Lee pays tribute to Thomas Jefferson Byrd who was found dead with multiple gunshot wounds to the back
(Getty Images)
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Oscar-winner Spike Lee remembered late actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd in an Instagram post who was shot and killed on Saturday, October 3. The 70-year-old known for movies like ‘Clockers’, ‘Get on the Bus’, ‘He Got Game’ and ‘Chi-Raq’ was found unresponsive by police at Belvedere Avenue, southwest Atlanta. Police spokesman Anthony Grant said in a statement that when they arrived at the scene at around 1.45 am, they discovered Byrd with multiple gunshot wounds in his back. He was declared dead at the scene by paramedics. Grant also stated that homicide investigators were working in the case to find out what led to Byrd’s murder.

The social media post on Sunday, October 4, by Lee saw him paying tribute to the veteran actor. Sharing a black and old picture of young Byrd, the 63-year-old film director wrote: “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.”

In 2003, Byrd was nominated for a Tony Award for his theatre work. He played Toledo in Ma Rainey's ‘Black Bottom’ opposite Whoopi Goldberg. The Oscar-winning actor Viola Davis also honored him as she shared a Variety article announcing his death and tweeted, “Oh no!!! 2020! Whaaattt!!! 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.” While Elisabeth Omilami, a fellow actor and community activist, told WXIA-TV that Byrd was a “brilliant dancer, actor, and friend”. “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,” she added.

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“Rest In Peace, Thomas Jefferson Byrd...what a man, what a talent...what a crazy loss. Thank U for always giving all of U. I Love U,” actor Lory Petty wrote on Twitter as well as on Instagram.


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A number of people also took to social media to pay their last respects to Byrd. “My condolences go out to his family and I'm so sorry for their loss. Isn't it weird that he died the same way he died in Set it Off?” tweeted one person. Another one said: “Oh my gosh. Such a tragedy. I agree. A fine actor and I'm sure admired by most. The first thing that comes to mind was his role on #LivingSingle playing Max's landlord who she despised. His line about H.B.O means Her Butt Out! #ThomasJeffersonByrd”.

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“What a horrible way to end a life, any life, but he was truly a gifted artist. I remember him from sitcoms in the 90s. I am sorry for your loss and that of his family and friends,” added the third user.


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