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Atlanta police found spent rifle rounds near body of Tony Award-nominated actor

By Jeremy Redmon, The Atlanta Journal-Constitution

(CNT) City News And Talk #atlanta-ga

Public viewing today for Thomas Byrd, 70, who performed on stage and in films.

Authorities found the body of the Tony Award-nominated actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd III in a yard near his home in Southwest Atlanta this month along with spent rifle rounds, according to police.

A report of an injured person brought police to 2257 Belvedere Ave. SW in the early morning of Oct. 3. When they arrived, police found Byrd there. He lived on the same street.

Byrd — who went by the nickname T-Bird — was shot in the back following an “argument,” a police report shows. The authorities have announced up to $10,000 in rewards for help in the case.

“This is still an active homicide investigation and detectives are following up on all leads but have no suspect information to release at this time,” Atlanta police spokesman Steve Avery said in an email.

Meanwhile, Byrd’s family is preparing to hold a public viewing in Atlanta Monday, followed by an online memorial service Tuesday.

Born in Griffin, Byrd, 70, acted on stage, on TV and in film, appearing in shows led by acclaimed directors Spike Lee and Kenny Leon. His Tony nomination for best featured actor in a play came in 2003 for his work in August Wilson’s “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom” on Broadway. Fellow actors and directors credited Byrd with delivering movingly authentic performances. 

Nasser Metcalfe, a longtime friend and actor based in New York, underscored Byrd’s humility.

“I have been around so many other actors who any time there is any kind of a spotlight, any time there is any type of a camera or some attention… many of them just jump up and have to be seen. And Thomas was not like that,” Metcalfe said.

“He just wanted the work to speak for him. And if you appreciated his work, then that was great. But he did not need so much praise an adulation from people in general.”

Lee has started a GoFundMe drive aimed at raising $100,000 for Byrd’s children. Byrd is survived by a son and five daughters. The effort has already exceeded the fundraising goal.