Thomas Jefferson Byrd, a Tony-nominated actor additionally identified for roles in varied Spike Lee movies, was discovered shot to dying on an Atlanta avenue, the authorities stated Sunday.
Mr. Byrd, 70, was discovered “unresponsive” by Atlanta law enforcement officials, who responded to a name about an injured particular person at 1:45 a.m. Saturday, Anthony Grant, a spokesman for the police, stated. Mr. Byrd was pronounced useless of “a number of gunshot wounds to the again,” Mr. Grant stated.
Craig Wyckoff, Mr. Byrd’s good friend and former consultant, stated on Sunday that he had spoken with a “circle of mates” who stated that Mr. Byrd had gotten into an argument with somebody at a retailer and that “that particular person should have adopted him house.” The police stated the case was below investigation and declined to substantiate that account.
In a series of posts to Instagram, Mr. Lee stated he was “So Unhappy to Announce The Tragic Homicide Of Our Beloved Brother” and highlighted Mr. Byrd’s roles in movies like “Clockers” (1995), “Chi-Raq” (2015) and “Bamboozled” (2000).
“Relaxation In Peace Brother Byrd,” Mr. Lee wrote.
Mr. Byrd additionally appeared within the 1996 movie “Set It Off” and was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award for his position in a Broadway revival of “Ma Rainey’s Black Backside,” by August Wilson. (A tv adaptation is coming to Netflix, starring Viola Davis and Chadwick Boseman, who died in August.)
“Beloved working with you Byrd,” Ms. Davis wrote in a tweet on Sunday. “What a effective actor you have been. So sorry your life ended this manner.”
A evaluate of “Ma Rainey’s Black Backside” in Variety in 2003 hailed Mr. Byrd as “a singular pleasure within the position of Toledo, the verbally fastidious piano participant who dispenses nuggets of African historical past and homegrown philosophy.”
“The prim set of Thomas Jefferson Byrd ’s mouth and the expressive gymnastics of his eyebrows gently accent Toledo’s extra pompous asides,” the reviewer, Charles Isherwood, wrote, “however he brings the proper measure of pure gravity to Toledo’s extra painfully genuine ruminations.”
Mr. Wyckoff stated that in recent times, Mr. Byrd had began educating appearing as he tried to “get his private life collectively” after a set of non-public struggles.
Nasser Metcalfe, an actor and a good friend of Mr. Byrd’s, stated he had been “struck by his humility.” At a exhibiting of “Clockers” at a theater in Atlanta earlier than the 2 met, each actors have been within the viewers.
It wasn’t a screening, Mr. Metcalfe stated, “simply the eight o’clock exhibiting on the native multiplex.”
When the movie ended, a few of the individuals who had been sitting close to Mr. Byrd stood up and applauded him. Mr. Byrd “very humbly” accepted their reward however didn’t need the highlight on himself.
“He appreciated the love, however he didn’t essentially need to be the focus,” Mr. Metcalfe stated in a cellphone name on Sunday.
In an upcoming movie, “Freedom’s Path,” concerning the Underground Railroad, Mr. Byrd performs the position of Abner, a father determine to a gaggle of former slaves.
Details about Mr. Byrd’s survivors was not instantly accessible.
He was born in Florida and raised in Georgia, Mr. Metcalfe stated.
Mr. Byrd graduated from Morris Brown Faculty, a traditionally Black liberal arts faculty in Atlanta, with a level in training. He then attained a grasp of effective arts in dance from the California Institute of the Arts.
Although Thomas Jefferson Byrd typically carried out as characters who have been tough across the edges — Mr. Lee highlighted his position as “The Horrifying Character Errol Barnes In CLOCKERS” — he was “the other of how he seemed,” Mr. Wyckoff stated, “and the other of what he performed.”
Later in his life, Mr. Byrd “turned extra introspective,” Mr. Metcalfe stated.
“He was on a path of non secular self discovery, so to talk, extra so than making an attempt to ebook the following job,” he stated.
However, Mr. Metcalfe stated, “at any time when Spike referred to as, he was there.”
When the 2 first met at an Atlanta restaurant the place Mr. Metcalfe was working, Mr. Byrd suggested him to “simply focus in your craft.” Within the early 2000s, when Mr. Byrd moved to New York for his position on Broadway, the actors lived two blocks away from one another in Harlem. They’d learn by means of scripts collectively, he stated.
“There was no restrict to his generosity,” Mr. Metcalfe stated. “That’s who the person was.”