Thomas Jefferson Byrd was found dead from multiple gunshot wounds in his back early Saturday morning in Atlanta.
Police confirmed that officers responded to a call about an injured person and found the actor laying ‘unresponsive at the location.’
The 70-year-old actor, who starred in several movies by director Spike Lee, was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Homicide detectives responded to the scene and are working to determine the circumstances surrounding the incident. The investigation continues at this time,” police said, PEOPLE reported.
Director Lee, 63, paid tribute to Byrd, who starred in many Oscar-winning films, including Clockers (1995), Set It Off (1996), He Got Game (1998), Da Sweet Blood of Jesus (2014), Ray (2004), and Chi-Raq (2015).
Lee wrote on Instagram: “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.”
The director added: “May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd.”
One internet user commented: “Who shoots an, unarmed, old, man in the back ? If it had been an incident in the civilized part of the world, there would have been an International outcry, being in US, it is an everyday incident.”
Another wrote: “RIP and God bless this man and his loved ones. This is my hometown. Almost everyone I know here has been a victim of violent crime. We always have to look over our shoulders, but it has gotten so much scarier with the diminishing police force.”
A third added: “What kind of coward shoots a 70yr old. In the back.”
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