Friends pulled Jeffrey McDonald, 27, from his burning apartment before dawn, but they couldn't save his life. It's believed he had been shot.
McDonald was not a student at Prairie View A&M University just across the county road, but friends say he once attended classes there. According to those who lived in the small apartment building, he was a friend to many. Some wept as they told of a morning laced with smoke, flames and fear.
An employee of a church next to the apartments told a different story, that of police calls and on Saturday, a loud confrontation in the parking lot between two groups of people. McDonald was among them.
According to neighbors, there'd been problems at the apartment. Now arson and murder have been added to the list, and the Prairie View Police Department has an investigation on its hands.
Prairie View Police Chief Larry Johnson says he has a lot of information to sift through, saying it's too early to rule whether the fire and murder were the result of revenge or random.
"We're looking at a lot of possibilities at this point," Chief Johnson said. "We haven't been able to confirm what happened and we're still in the preliminary part of the investigation."