Watch CBS News

Brooklyn Residents Remember Actor Michael K. Williams As Giving Member Of Community: 'He Exemplified What It Meant To Be Real'

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Tributes are pouring in for actor Michael K. Williams.

The Emmy-nominated star of "The Wire" and "Lovecraft Country" was found dead Monday in his Brooklyn apartment. He was 54 years old.

A cause of death has not been determined, but CBS News has learned police are investigating a possible drug overdose.

Williams impressed fans with fierce acting and equally bold and heartfelt activism.

Watch Dave Carlin's report --

As CBS2's Cory James reports, hundreds attended a vigil honoring Williams on Tuesday night. Music was played and prayers were shared on the streets of Brooklyn.

The five-time Emmy Award nominee frequently returned to the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up -- East Flatbush.

"He'd just show up and be part of the neighborhood," East Flatbush resident Yolanda Castellano told CBS2's Dave Carlin.

PHOTOS: Remembering Michael K. Williams Through The Years

Outside his activism, the world knew Williams as an electric presence on the big screen on hit shows like "The Wire" and "Boardwalk Empire."

Two years ago, he spoke to CBS News about his accomplishments, garnering support from fans and politicians, specifically President Barack Obama.

"You know, because up until that point, I was a grown man on television who thought my voice didn't matter," Williams said.

A voice that touched those participating in a SAG-AFTRA roundtable last October as Williams reflected on the impact of playing Montrose Freeman in "Lovecraft Country," a character who was a father, an alcoholic and sexually conflicted.

"Thank God I have a cast and these amazing angels around me to hold me up," William said, crying.

He held up others around New York City, taking part in charity events and visiting schools and an East Flatbush Head Start program, where Jennifer McLeod works

"Whenever he do come back, he visits everyone in the community," McLeod said. "He gave turkey to everyone at the park."

Williams' eagerness to get out in the community and inspire others to tackle injustice and push for reform and unity brought him to a SoHo art gallery in June.

READ MORE: Black Wall Street Gallery In SoHo Vandalized Again, Owner Calls For Greater Police Presence

Williams spoke at a press conference conference outside Black Wall Street Gallery, which had been targeted by vandals three separate times.

"We do not stand for this. We do not stand for hate," Williams said.

"He exemplified what it meant to be real, to be human, and he saw people for who they were, beyond just some accolade, and he really cared about community," said Dr. Ricco Wright, the gallery's owner.

"He was just an awesome person. It's just sad that he went that way," Castellano said.

They say they mourn not just the star, but a kind and caring friend.

Family members say funeral arrangements have not been finalized.

CBS2's Dave Carlin contributed to this report.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.