Chief Samuel Peña with the Houston Fire Department identified the fire investigator who was shot and killed in the line of duty on Friday morning and it’s obvious that the department is shocked at what transpired.
Chief Peña relates that 44-year-old Lemuel Bruce “was killed in a shooting while on duty. He’s the first HFD arson investigator to be killed by gunfire in the line of duty.”
Recent arson fires
According to Chief Peña, “the investigator was part of a team looking into recent arson fires” in the Timbergrove and Heights neighborhoods of Houston, Texas. Gunfire erupted around 3:30 a.m. in the 2100 block of 18th Street.
While the arson team was prowling through the ashes of the suspicious fires, officials explain that “Investigator Bruce spotted a vehicle that met the description of a suspect they were interested in.” He was “following the suspect while waiting for his other team members to get into the area.”
Obviously, the arson suspect noticed he was being followed. “At some point there was an exchange of gunfire,” authorities say. They could tell because when they got there they found that “Investigator Bruce was shot multiple times. He was taken to the hospital, where he died from his injuries.”
Suspect didn’t get far
The arson and murder suspect “also died at the scene.” As reported by police, 30-year-old Joshua De La Cerda “was found inside a gray Hyundai with what appeared to be a self-inflicted gunshot wound.” He decided to take the easy way out.
As reported by the local Fox station, “Just blocks away in the Heights, a car was left burned to a char.” The arson victim, Charla Allen, told reporters that “her Ring doorbell captured an arsonist leaving her driveway after lighting the car on fire.”
It happened just minutes before the shootout. “I don’t think we were targeted. They’ve been doing this for two weeks all over the Heights. It just happened our car was parked out here.” She went on to add, “It’s a little infuriating, but a car can be replaced, unlike the officer that was killed, and we feel terrible about that—such a waste. The car’s not worth it.”
It isn’t clear if De La Cerda was behind all of the recent arson fires or what his political leanings are. According to the chief, “Investigator Bruce began his career with HFD in 2003 and has been an investigator for five years.” Also, “He had a wife and two children, 12 and eight.
They are hurting right now. The department is hurting. And I want to give my condolences to them. I want to ask the community to please, please keep the fire department and the Bruce family in their prayers.”