Man Arrested in Killing of Thomas Jefferson Byrd


An Atlanta man was arrested on Friday morning in the fatal shooting of the actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd, the authorities said.

The man, Antonio Demetrice Rhynes, 30, was arrested on a charge of felony murder in the death of Mr. Byrd, 70, earlier this month, Officer Anthony W. Grant, a spokesman with the Atlanta Police Department said in a statement.

The police said they followed evidence and tips from the public to identify Mr. Rhynes as a suspect and issued a warrant for his arrest on Wednesday. The police said he was arrested without incident at an apartment complex and shared a drone video of the arrest. It was not immediately clear if he had a lawyer. He was taken to the Fulton County Jail in Atlanta, according to jail records.

About 1:45 a.m. on Oct. 3, police officers responded to a call of a person who had been wounded. When they arrived, they said they found a man, who was later identified as Mr. Byrd, dead with multiple gun shot wounds to the back. It was not clear what led to the shooting or whether the gunman and the victim knew each other.

Officer Grant said “we do not have motive information to release at this time as well.”

Shortly after the killing, Craig Wyckoff, a friend and former representative of Mr. Byrd’s, said he had spoken with a “circle of friends,” who told him that Mr. Byrd had gotten into an argument with someone at a store and that “that person must have followed him home.” The police had declined to confirm that account.

Mr. Byrd’s daughter, Shannon Byrd-Crossley who lives in Atlanta, thanked the city’s police department for the arrest.

“We are very thankful for all of the work the APD has done,’’ she said on Friday. “This gives a little closure and relief but there is still sadness that’s there because it doesn’t bring my father back.”

Mr. Byrd was a film, television and stage actor known as a favorite of the director Spike Lee. After Mr. Byrd’s death, Mr. Lee called him “our beloved brother” and paid tribute to him by highlighting his movie roles in a series of Instagram posts.

Mr. Byrd appeared in Mr. Lee’s “Clockers” (1995), “Girl 6” (1996), “Get on the Bus” (1996), “He Got Game” (1998), “Bamboozled” (2000), “Red Hook Summer” (2012), “Da Sweet Blood of Jesus” (2014) and “Chi-Raq” (2015). Mr. Lee has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for Mr. Byrd’s children.

Mr. Byrd also received a Tony Award nomination for his one Broadway appearance, in a 2003 production of “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.”

On Tuesday, a memorial service for Mr. Byrd was held in Atlanta where it was streamed online to hundreds of people.



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