HPD releases name of gunman who shot and killed HFD arson investigator in the line duty

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Fallen HFD arson investigator Lemuel Bruce. Scene. HFD, Mayor Turner statement

HOUSTON (CW39) Friday evening, Houston Police identified the gunman as 30-year-old Joshua De La Cerda. Officials say he committed suicide from a self-inflicted gunshot wound during a shootout with an HFD arson investigator Friday morning.

In a tragic sequence of events in the Houston Heights Friday morning, a Houston Fire Department arson investigator has died in the line of duty for the first time in the department’s history.

In a statement issued Friday morning shortly before 9am, HFD officials said:

The Houston Fire Department is saddened to report that Arson Investigator Lemuel Bruce (44) has been shot and killed in the line of duty, this morning, October 16, 2020, while conducting surveillance during an arson investigation. He is the first HFD Arson investigator to die in the line of duty.

Investigator Bruce began his career with HFD in 2003 and has been an investigator for five years. He has previously served out of HFD Fire Stations 77, 96, 46, 42, 64, 6 and 12. 

Please, keep the family, friends and members of the HFD Arson Bureau in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Houston Fire Department

Leaves behind a wife and two children, 12 and 8 years old. He suffered several gunshot wounds to his torso in a shootout with a gunman in the 4am hour Friday morning. Bruce managed to give his location over the police radio. Units arrived 2 minutes later and Bruce was rushed to Memorial Hermann Hospital where he died from his injuries.

In video captured early this morning, an unmarked arson vehicle had multiple bullet holes at 2100 block of West 18th at Seamist in northwest Houston.

The suspect is also deceased after an exchange of gunfire on scene. No official word on the shooter’s identity.

Arrangement are currently pending at this time.

Meanwhile, messages of sympathy and support are being posted by local leaders like Houston Police Chief Art Acevedo

Bruce is the fourth to die in the department. Three others have died as a result of the pandemic.

Houston Police officials gave an official statement on camera and answered questions from reporters about last week’s arrest of an accused fire starter in the area. Here’s a look.

The Greater Houston Heights has been on edge for over 2 weeks after multiple arson incidents have happened. 28-year-old Joshua A. Rauch was charged a week ago in connection with Heights fires set to unoccupied vehicles in the area.

No official word on if the two investigations are connected at this time.

Continue to follow this story for more developments in this case.

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This afternoon, Mayor Turner extended his condolences to the family and HFD.

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