NEW ORLEANS - "When you go out there, in this business and you approach a murder scene or whatever, you just never know who the person is, you just never know," Vincent Lewis said.
Lewis is a photographer at WWL-TV. He never could have imagined that just a few feet away from his camera, his friend and Dillard University roommate, officer Marcus McNeil was the NOPD officer struck by a gunman's bullet.
Lewis got a call from his producer late Thursday evening, asking him to head to New Orleans East.
"It was an active scene by NOPD. The state troopers. And when I got up this morning and saw it was Marcus, my heart just dropped. My whole spirit, it just died," Lewis said.
The same chills rolled through Chris Quest's veins Friday morning.
"I was in class. I hadn't heard about it last evening. Someone was under the presumption that I'd already known and um, I had no clue," Quest said.
Quest and Officer McNeil attended St. Augustine High School together. Looking inside their yearbook at their class photos and their fun times in the Marching 100 Band, Quest can't believe that a man with such a loving spirit died so violently.
"It was definitely difficult. I had to step out of the class and take a moment because that was very, very tragic," Quest said.
Both Lewis and Quest described McNeil as a quiet, smart and funny person. Now at teacher at St. Augustine, Quest teaches McNeil's little brother.
"Earlier this year, we joke about the fact that we were classmates and that I'm now teaching his brother, and he told me to stay on him. Make sure he's doing his best. And I assured him, that's why were here," Quest said.
Now the entire St. Augustine family mourns.
"This is a brotherhood. This is a bond that is unbreakable and. To lose one in any capacity. It hits hard, it hits home for everybody," Quest said.
Lewis and Quest say they're not surprised McNeil dedicated his life to protecting and serving New Orleans. While they grieve, they're proud of the young man they grew to know and undoubtedly admire.
"It's a sad case that we lost another guy to gun violence. I'm going to miss him. I love him. And I love his family," Lewis said.