Houston, TX – Houston Fire Department (HFD) Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce was murdered in the line of duty while conducting surveillance during an arson investigation early Friday morning.
HFD Chief Samuel Pena said that the 44-year-old investigator was conducting surveillance in the 2100-block of West 18th Street in connection with an ongoing arson investigation when he got into a confrontation at approximately 3:30 a.m., KTRK reported.
Investigator Bruce, who was following the suspect, ended up in a gun battle before other officers were able to respond to the area, Chief Pena said.
The gunman was hit by gunfire and died at the scene.
His identity has not been released.
Investigator Bruce was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital, where he succumbed to his wounds at approximately 4:43 a.m., KTRK reported.
“We mourn the line-of-duty loss of Lemuel Bruce, our friend and brother,” Houston Professional Fire Fighters Association (HPFFA) President Patrick “Marty” Lancton said in a press release, according to KTRK.
“Please keep Lemuel’s family, friends and arson unit in your thoughts and prayers,” Lancton wrote. “Investigator Bruce leaves behind a loving family, including his wife, daughter and son, along with many friends and a long list of Houston firefighters who respected and enjoyed serving with him.”
Investigator Bruce’s children are just eight and 12 years old, KTRK reported.
“They are hurting right now,” Chief Pena said, according to KPRC. “I want to give my condolences to them.”
Investigator Bruce joined the HFD in 2003.
During his 17 years of service, he was stationed at HFD Fire Stations 6, 23, 42, 46, 64, 77, and 96, and spent the last five years of his career serving the department’s Fire and Arson Investigation Division.
“It’s a tragic, tragic loss, very young individual, 44 years old, prime of his life. Again, conducting basic arson investigation, and it ended in this way. It’s senseless,” Chief Pena said during a press conference outside the hospital.
Investigator Bruce’s murder marked the first arson investigator line-of-duty death in the history of HFD, KTRK reported.
Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner said that Investigator Bruce devoted nearly half of his life to serving the citizens of Houston, KTRK reported.
“It’s a tough day,” Turner said. “Tough day for city, tough day for fire, tough day for police.”
Today, our city mourns the loss of @HoustonFire Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce.
I extend my condolences, thoughts, and prayers to his family and those who work closest to him as they worked to protect and serve our city.
May he rest in peace. pic.twitter.com/okzaqxyfQo
— Sylvester Turner (@SylvesterTurner) October 16, 2020
RIP🙏 An emotional salute as the body of @HoustonFire Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce was escorted to the medical examiner's office. The husband and father of 2 was killed in the line of duty during a confrontation. https://t.co/7N0S8Tprbf pic.twitter.com/922PDXf8HW
— ABC13 Houston (@abc13houston) October 16, 2020
— Houston Firefighters (@FirefightersHOU) October 16, 2020
— Houston Fire Dept (@HoustonFire) October 16, 2020
Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of Houston Fire Department Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce, both blood and blue. Thank you for your service.
Investigator Lemuel Bruce, your life mattered.