Atlanta Man Arrested and Charged With Murder in Connection With Fatal Shooting of Thomas Jefferson Byrd

Thomas Jefferson Byrd at the rehearsals for Red Herring” on August 9, 2006 in New York City.
Thomas Jefferson Byrd at the rehearsals for Red Herring” on August 9, 2006 in New York City.
Photo: Peter Kramer/Getty Images (Getty Images)

The fatal shooting of beloved actor Thomas Jefferson Byrd shocked fans and peers alike when it was announced earlier this month.

The actor, who was mostly known for acting in an array of Spike Lee films, died in Atlanta at the age of 70. Now, it looks like there’s a leading suspect involved in the fatal shooting that stemmed from an argument, resulting in Byrd being shot in the back. Police recovered spent rifle rounds near Byrd’s body at the crime scene.


Atlanta-Journal Constitution reports:

Following up on evidence and tips, investigators said they identified the suspect in the case as 30-year-old Antonio Demetrice Rhynes. Warrants were issued for his arrest Wednesday and he was taken into custody early Friday morning at the Royal Oaks Apartments along North Camp Creek Parkway, Atlanta police said.

He has been arrested at least five other times in Fulton since 2007, online jail records show. His previous charges include armed robbery, aggravated assault with a deadly weapon, burglary and hijacking a motor vehicle, among others.

“Any progress that is made, we are thankful for it,” Byrd’s daughter Shannon Byrd-Crossley said in a statement. “I do feel great relief. But at the same time, it doesn’t bring him back.” Byrd-Crossley, who is an artist and theater teacher in Atlanta, does not personally know the suspect.


Earlier this month, investigators announced a $10,000 reward for information leading to the suspect’s arrest. Lee recently launched a GoFundMe for Byrd’s children, which has now surpassed its goal of $100,000. A memorial service was held for the late actor on Tuesday at Hillside International Truth Center in Atlanta and it was also streamed online.

Staff Writer, Entertainment at The Root. Sugar, spice & everything rice. Equipped with the uncanny ability to make a Disney reference and a double entendre in the same sentence.

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The vast majority of gun crime happens like this. Criminals with felony backgrounds and often previous gun charges. Almost all gun crime is handgun violence. Very often these criminals even have the gun charges dropped by prosecutors in order to cut a deal.

So why is there so much focus on disarming law abiding Americans? Why the desire to take away long rifles despite the FBI saying rifles and shotguns combined are used in only 6% of crimes?

It is always just another effort to prevent ordinary citizens from exercising their rights. Whether it’s the racist, Jim Crow pistol purchase laws that still exist today, laws banning Saturday Night Specials (can’t have cheap guns that black people can buy!) or more modern efforts like taxing ammunition to unaffordable levels or banning AR style rifles; the end result is the same — preventing you from being able to take care of yourself.

And what should you do instead of being armed they say? Call the cops! That message is great for some people, but didn’t do much for Emantic Fitzgerald Bradford Jr, did it? A black veteran who not only served his country in the Armed Forces, but continued to serve his community up until the moment of his death as he sought to intervene in a mall shooting — only to be killed by the police who responded.