Suspect Arrested in Murder of Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Actor in Spike Lee's Films

Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who was known for his roles in Spike Lee films, was killed in Atlanta on Saturday, Oct. 3.

By Alyssa Morin Oct 16, 2020 4:30 PMTags
Thomas Jefferson ByrdAstrid Stawiarz/Getty Images

UPDATE: Homicide detectives have identified a suspect in the shooting death of Thomas Jefferson Byrd.

On Oct. 14, Atlanta police officials announced that warrants for the arrest of 30-year-old Antonio Demetrice Rhynes of Atlanta for felony murder were issued and investigators from the APD Fugitive Unit were working to arrest the suspect.

In the early morning hours of Oct. 16, Rhynes was indeed arrested and taken to the Fulton County Jail. As of press time, he had yet to enter a plea. 


Hollywood has lost a star.

Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd passed away in Atlanta, Ga. on Saturday, Oct. 3 "from multiple gunshot wounds to the back," a spokesperson for the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement to E! News.

According to local law enforcement, officers responded to a "person injured call" around 1:45 a.m. EST on Saturday. Upon arrival, authorities said they found "a male lying unresponsive at the location."

An EMS team also responded to the call, and shortly after arriving, they pronounced the male dead. The victim was later identified to be Byrd. He was 70 years old. At this time, it's unclear what the circumstances are surrounding the incident. Per the Atlanta Police Department, Byrd's death is currently under investigation.

Celebrity Deaths: 2020's Fallen Stars

Following the news of Byrd's death, Spike Lee took to Instagram to pay tribute to the late actor, who frequently appeared in his projects such as Chi-Raq, Clockers, Red Hook Summer, He Got Game and countless others.

"I'm So Sad To Announce The Tragic Murder Of Our Beloved Brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd Last Night In Atlanta, Georgia," Lee began his Instagram post on Sunday, Oct. 4. "Tom Is My Guy."

The acclaimed director noted the films he worked with the late actor on, and in closing, Lee shared on final message.

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

Watch: In Memoriam: Fallen Stars of 2020

Viola Davis expressed her heartache as well, writing, "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."

Comedian Jay Washington also honored the late actor on social media."Rest In Peace to the legendary Thomas Jefferson Byrd seen here with me and the iconic Spike Lee," Washington wrote in part. "I had the honor of working with Mr. Byrd in CHI-RAQ but enjoyed much of his work."

—Reporting by Spencer Lubitz

(Originally published Sunday, Oct. 4, 2020 at 3:44 p.m. PST)

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