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Thomas Jefferson Byrd death: Set It Off actor was murdered in Atlanta, director Spike Lee announces

Thomas Jefferson Byrd in Red Hook Summer
Thomas Jefferson Byrd (right) played Deacon Zee in Spike Lee’s Red Hook Summer. Pic credit: Variance Films

Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd was murdered in Atlanta, Georgia on Saturday night, director Spike Lee has revealed on Instagram.

Spike Lee took to the social media platform on Sunday to announce the shocking news to his more than 1.8 million followers.

“I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta, Georgia,” Lee wrote.

Lee then went on to eulogize the actor and listed some of the projects in which he worked with Byrd. Byrd appeared in Lee-directed movies, such as Clockers, Red Hook Summer, Bamboozled, and Da Sweet Blood of Jesus and several others.

Byrd is best known for playing Luther in Set If Off.

Lee also expressed his condolences to Byrd’s family.

“May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd,” he concluded.

Spike Lee announces Thomas Jefferson Byrd death
Pic credit: @officialspikelee/Twitter

Minutes later, Lee followed up his initial Instagram post with another that included a clip showing a scene from the Lee-directed movie Clockers in which Bryd appears as Errol Barnes.

He also uploaded a clip showing a scene from Clockers that he described as “One Of My Fav Scenes In CLOCKERS.”


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With KRS-1 Blasting OUTTA HERE Our Late,Great Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd As ERROL BARNES Meets His Demise From A Young Black Child.

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

Director Spike Lee only stated that Byrd was murdered overnight. He did not give details about the circumstances of the veteran actor’s death.

Byrd’s family also did not immediately release a statement confirming the sad news.

Reactions on Twitter

People have been reacting with shock to the sad news of Byrd’s death on social media. Fans, fellow actors, and celebrities have been posting tributes and condolence messages on Twitter.

Celebs who have reacted on Twitter include the comedian Jay Washingon, actor Wendell Pierce, and the NBA’s Jamal Crawford.

Jay Washington
Pic credit: @MrJayWashington/Twitter

Who was actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd?

Thomas Jefferson Byrd was an actor best known for his roles in multiple Spike Lee-directed movies, including Set if Off, Clockers, Chi-Raq, He Got Game, Red Hook Summer, Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, Get on the Bus, Girl 6, and Bamboozled.

He played Errol Barnes in Clockers, Evan Thomas Sr. in Get in the Bus, Deacon Zee in Red Hook Summer, Bishop Zee in Da Sweet Blood of Jesus, and Apollo in Chi-Raq.

He also appeared in movies such as Brooklyn’s Finest, directed by Antoine Fuqua. He appeared in TV series such as The Last O.G. and played Stokely in the TV series She’s Gotta Have It, based on the movie of the same name.

Byrd was born in Griffin, Georgia.

He attended Morris Brown College from where he earned a bachelor of science degree in education. He also attended the California Institute of Arts and obtained a Master of Fine Arts degree in dance.

During the early years of his career, he appeared in several stage productions, including the San Diego Repertory Theatre’s Spunk, August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, Flyin’ West, and Hamlet.

Byrd was nominated for Broadway’s 2003 Tony Award as Best Actor for his role in Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, according to  IMDb.

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