Thomas Jefferson Byrd, star of Spike Lee movies, is shot dead in Atlanta

Thomas Jefferson Byrd, who starred in a number of Spike Lee movies, has been shot and killed in Atlanta, police have confirmed.

He was found with multiple gunshot wounds to the back after officers were called to an incident in the early hours of Sunday morning, according to Variety.

Byrd was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 70.

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Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 02: (L-R) Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Spike Lee "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" Broadway Opening Night at Longacre Theatre on August 2, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends "Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus" cast and crew special screening after party at Hudson Hotel on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 23: (L-R) Thomas Jefferson Byrd, Spike Lee, and Elvis Nolasco attend "Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus" cast and crew special screening after party at Hudson Hotel on June 23, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 22: Thomas Jefferson Byrd (R) attends "Da Sweet Blood Of Jesus" world premiere during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at SVA Theater on June 22, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by J. Countess/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Founder of the Black Film Festival, Nicole Friday (L) and actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd attend the "Spike Lee...Ya Dig!" career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd poses for a portrait at the 2014 American Black Film Festival at the Metropolitan Pavillion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Astrid Stawiarz/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) (L-R) Actors Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Shane McRae pose for pictures at the rehearsals for the upcoming play "Red Herring" which is produced by American Idol finalist Katherine McPhee at The Players Theatre on August 9, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the "Spike Lee...Ya Dig!" career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - AUGUST 09: (EXCLUSIVE ACCESS) (L-R) Actors Thomas Jefferson Byrd and Shane McRae rehearse for the upcoming play "Red Herring" which is produced by American Idol finalist Katherine McPhee at The Players Theatre on August 9, 2006 in New York City. (Photo by Peter Kramer/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the "Spike Lee...Ya Dig!" career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Mireya Acierto/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the "Spike Lee...Ya Dig!" career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the "Spike Lee...Ya Dig!" career retrospective and celebration during the 2014 American Black Film Festival at Metropolitan Pavilion on June 21, 2014 in New York City. (Photo by Paul Zimmerman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 22: Actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd enters the "Middle Of Nowhere" Closing Night Premiere - 2012 Urbanworld Film Festival at AMC 34th Street on September 22, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Ray Tamarra/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 06: Thomas Jefferson Byrd attends the "Red Hook Summer" premiere at the DGA Theater on August 6, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 02: (L-R) Tonya Lewis-Lee, Spike Lee and Thomas Jefferson Byrd attend "Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth" Broadway Opening Night at Longacre Theatre on August 2, 2012 in New York City. (Photo by Johnny Nunez/WireImage)
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The Atlanta Police Department confirmed that an investigation into the incident has begun.

Lee took to Instagram to pay tribute to the actor on hearing the news.

"I'm so sad to announce the tragic murder of our beloved brother Thomas Jefferson Byrd last night in Atlanta, Georgia," the director said.

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. May We All Wish Condolences And Blessings To His Family. Rest In Peace Brother Byrd.�������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������������

A post shared by Spike Lee (@officialspikelee) on

"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. May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family. Rest in peace brother Byrd."

Byrd began his acting career in repertory theatre in San Diego, and earned a Tony nomination for his role in the 2003 Broadway revival of Ma Rainey's Black Bottom.

Prior to that, he starred as Errol Barnes in Lee's 1995 movie Clockers, the first movie they would make together.

Roles in Lee's Girl 6, Get On The Bus and more recently Red Hook Summer and 2015's Chi-Raq followed, alongside a regular spot as Stokely in Lee's Netflix serialised reboot of She's Gotta Have It.

Byrd also starred in movies like Warren Beatty's 1998 political satire Bulworth and Ray, the Oscar-winning biopic of Ray Charles, alongside Jamie Foxx.

His last credited role was in the Jordan Peele comedy series The Last O.G., alongside Tracy Morgan and Tiffany Haddish.

- This article first appeared on Yahoo

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