Atlanta police offer reward in murder of actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Byrd, the beloved Georgia native featured on stages and film screens, was found dead early Sunday morning.

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Police in the city of Atlanta are seeking tips leading to whoever murdered Tony Award-nominated actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Crime Stoppers is offering a $10,000 reward for information that results in the eventual indictment of the suspect arrested for shooting and killing Byrd. 

Actor and beloved Georgia native Thomas Jefferson Byrd, featured on stage and film screens, was found dead early Sunday morning. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)

The beloved actor and Georgia native was found dead early Sunday morning in southwest Atlanta with multiple shots to his back. 

He was 70 years old. 

Known for his roles in several Spike Lee films, Byrd was saluted by the legendary director in a series of recent Instagram posts.

“I’m So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta, Georgia,” Lee wrote, listing the credits of Byrd’s under his umbrella. “May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd.”

According to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, authorities have not identified a suspect or a motive in the slaying. 

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A successful theater actor, Byrd was nominated for a 2003 Tony Award as Best Actor for a revival of August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom,” co-starring Whoopi Goldberg and Charles S. Dutton

According to Film Reference, Byrd grew up in Griffin, Georgia and got his Bachelor’s degree in education from Morris Brown College, a historically Black institution. He received a master’s degree in dance at the California Institute of the Arts.

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Byrd appeared in several Lee films, including Chi-Raq, Sweet Blood of Jesus, Red Hook Summer, Bamboozled, He Got Game, Get On the Bus and Clockers. He also appeared in the Netflix-series version of Lee’s She’s Gotta Have It. 

Additionally, Byrd appeared in Set It Off and Law and Order: Criminal Intent

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Memorial services for him have yet to be announced. 

Police are asking anyone with information to call them or Crime Stoppers at (404) 577-8477 or submit information online at

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