Michael Byrd started life with 15 siblings, a family tightly knit together inside the old Charter Oak Terrace housing project.
Loss has been quick and constant, he said Tuesday, to the point where he’s said goodbye to six of his sisters and three of his brothers, nearly all to illness.
But the most recent loss, one that came Monday, is the most raw: His older brother Albert Byrd was stabbed to death inside the apartment he shared with his sister in the city’s South End. And Byrd’s teenage nephew was the one allegedly holding the knife.
“I didn’t believe it when they told me, I just couldn’t believe that that happened,” Michael Byrd said. “Nothing like this has happened before; there’s no history of violence in our family.
Police found Albert Byrd, 71, with multiple stab wounds to his torso inside his apartment on Van Block Avenue on Monday afternoon. Witnesses told them that his 17-year-old nephew had stabbed him, and the teen was taken into custody without incident. He has been charged with murder in the case.
The Courant is withholding the suspect’s name because he has not been charged as an adult in his great uncle’s slaying. He appeared in Superior Court in Hartford late Tuesday during a closed hearing attended by his parents.
His bail has been set at $1 million, and he is scheduled to return to court on Dec. 19, according to court officials.
Michael Byrd said the teen and his parents had been staying with Albert and their sister temporarily, moving into the apartment just before Thanksgiving.
He described the incident as “completely unprovoked, out of the blue.”
“My brother didn’t bother anybody,” Byrd said. “He was very gentle, very giving in a lot of ways.”
Byrd said the teen had been suffering from depression, and that the family had expressed concerns about his mental health.
“I’m not angry at him, I just think he needs to get help now,” Byrd said. “The tragedy is that I lost my brother, but my nephew’s life is ruined also.”
He said his heart goes out to the teen’s parents, whom he commended for cooperating with police.
“I think being angry is just not the answer,” Byrd said. “I forgive him, and I’ll support my niece and her husband any way I can.”
Staff writer David Owens contributed to this report.