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Community mourns after shooting death of well-known actor in Atlanta

Thomas Jefferson Byrd had a career in the entertainment industry spanning decades and was remembered by many including Spike Lee with whom he often worked.

ATLANTA — Condolences are rolling in after a shooting that claimed the life of a prolific actor early Saturday morning.

Police said they were called to the 2200 block of Belvedere Avenue to report of a person injured around 1:45 a.m. but arrived to find a man - later identified as Thomas Jefferson Byrd - unresponsive. Grady EMS soon arrived on the scene and pronounced him dead on the scene. Police said that, based on a preliminary investigation, Byrd appeared to have been shot multiple times in the back.

Since his death, major names in the community and the entertainment industry have spoken out - including director Spike Lee who had worked with Byrd in several movies.

"May we all wish condolences and blessings to his family," Lee wrote. "Rest in Peace"

He listed several of his own movies in which Byrd had been a part of, including Chi-Raq, Sweet Blood of Jesus, Red Hook Summer, Bamboozled, He Got Game, Get On the Bus, and Clockers.

Elisabeth Omilami of Hosea Helps also spoke following the news of Byrd's death, describing him as a "brilliant dancer, actor, and friend."

"He was a special person whose personality filled up the whole room when he entered you knew he was there. He fought his way through this very racist and difficult Hollywood system and was able to maintain a career through it all."

She added that he had just finished his last film, "Freedom's Path" with her husband, Afemo Omilami.

Atlanta Police are still working to understand the circumstances of the deadly shooting as their investigation continues. A spokesperson for the department said that may details from the preliminary investigation could change as more information comes to light.