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'He had this boyish charm and spirit' | Klein Oak classmates remember Lemuel 'DJ' Bruce

The Houston arson investigator was shot and killed while following an arson suspect Friday morning in Houston near the Heights.

HOUSTON — High school friends of Houston arson investigator Lemuel Bruce are mourning his death after he was shot and killed during a gunfight with an arson suspect on Friday morning.

Bruce, 44, was a 17-year veteran of the Houston Fire Department, and served five years with the arson team. Arson investigators are sworn peace officers.

Bruce also served as a crew chief in the Marines. He was from Houston and attended Klein Oak High School.

Christine Tran and Bruce met as freshmen, joining yearbook club. Once she got the stories, he helped her put the spreads together.

“When you meet him, he’s just got this light about him. He did his own thing. He didn’t care what anybody else thought about him. He gets curious about something and he goes and does it like a very youthful boy.”

Tran and other friends said they called Lemuel Bruce by the nickname "DJ." 

Tran said Bruce's humor, mischief, and joy for life, drew her to him.

“You don’t want to get rid of people like that from your life," said Tran.

Tran later introduced DJ, to his wife, Rachel.

“You can’t replace that kind of friendship," said Tran.

"It's very rare that a person who has seen so much destruction and grief to have that outlook. It's refreshing and makes you want to be a kid again," Tran said.

Tran said Bruce had been working a lot lately, and that because of COVID-19, he was social distancing, and she had seen Bruce's wife and kids more than him.

She said Bruce served in the Marines with many of his friends from high school. She found her 1995 yearbook with Bruce's photo.

“There’s that cringe. Remembering all the things. Thinking about him not being there for that anymore. It’s bittersweet, but it does bring back some good memories, some thing I had forgotten about him."

Funeral plans are still in the works.