With heavy hearts, family and friends of Franklin Square resident Charles Bruce, Sr., 52, gathered in Lynbrook for his burial on Saturday. Bruce, a member of the Malverne Fire Department, was shot by his friend on Nov. 16 while hunting in the woods in the Town of Westford, in Ostego County, about 65 miles west of Albany. Ostego County District Attorney John Muehl told the Herald that the shooting is believed to be accidental. Bruce was shot once in the chest with a high-powered .44 caliber rifle and died at the scene, State Police reported.
Police, along with the Ostego County D.A.’s office and State Department of Environmental Conservation, investigated the death and determined that Bruce’s friend had mistaken him for a deer. Muehl said that Bruce had not been wearing any protective gear or an orange safety jacket. He said that his friend may face charges of criminally negligent homicide or second-degree manslaughter and will present the case to a grand jury.
The friend, who was also a member of the MFD for more than 10 years, had not yet been arrested, Muehl said, so his name was not released. Dave Gildea, MFD public information officer, told the Herald that Bruce was with several friends and he, Gildea, had spoken to Bruce on their way upstate. He said that the entire Department was shaken and at a loss for words.
"[We're] very saddened over the loss of our friend and brother firefighter Charlie Bruce," Gildea said in a statement. "Charlie was a true friend, great firefighter and all around wonderful person. He lived an extremely active life and shared so much of himself with the members of the Malverne Fire Department and with all of his friends from several walks of life. We will miss him terribly."
Bruce, who was an electrician and grew up in College Point, Queens, leaves behind two children — Megan, 22, and Charles Jr., 18. Charles Jr. recently also became part of the Department.
“People always say, ‘your father’s a hero, a best friend’ — he was really my one true hero,” Charles Jr. said during his eulogy. “I miss him so much, I can’t believe he’s gone.”
Paul McMenamy, a close friend of Bruce’s, said that his friend’s spirit will live on through his children and he will always remember all that he taught him.