Fallen San Antonio firefighter remembered 2 years after fatal blaze

Scott Deem was killed in May 18, 2017, Ingram Square fire

By Rob Garza - Photojournalist, Garrett Brnger - Reporter

In matching "Deem Strong" shirts, Bobby Gonzales and his family gathered Saturday at the Ingram Square shopping center where, two years ago, his cousin, San Antonio firefighter Scott Deem, was killed.

"We just, you know, miss him," Gonzales said.

Deem, a husband and father of three, died while responding to a fire at a gym in the shopping center on May 18, 2017. Fellow firefighters, Brad Phipps and Robert Vasquez were injured, too, with Phipps being severely burned.

The gym's owner, Emond Johnson, has been accused of intentionally starting the fire and is awaiting trial.

The spot in the shopping center where the gym once stood is now empty and fenced off. It's also where Gonzales and his family chose to leave flowers and a balloon with a note to the departed Deem, letting him know that though he may be gone, he is "never forgotten."

The family happily remembers the kind-hearted man that Deem was.

"Just a good person," said Gonzales's wife, Nichole. "Always wanting to do everything for everybody."

But the family also remembers the night he died. Nichole Gonzales said that when they heard someone had been hurt, they prayed that it wasn't Deem

"And to hear the news, it was tough," she remembered. "But Scott would have done it again. He was that kind of person."

It isn't only on the anniversary of his death that the Gonzales family remembers Deem, but every day.

"Every night we pray for everybody, for all the first responders out there, that everything that they go through. We see it on the news everyday, and we just pray that everybody makes it through," Nichole Gonzales said.

And between a custom tailgate wrap featuring his cousin's photo, a window decal with his dates of birth and death, and a "Thin Red Line" flag in the back of his truck, Bobby Gonzales tries to ensure that the rest of the city remembers Deem, too.

It appears to be working, with Nichole Gonzales saying many people stop and honk.

"Like San Antonio has done so much. We appreciate everything, and so do Jennifer and the kids and stuff appreciate everything that they've done," she said.

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