Why it’s so hard to break an opioid addiction
Justin Bruckman wasn’t a drug addict. In fact, he tried to help his friends who spiraled down the wrong path come back to the right side.
So, it was more than just a surprise when Bruckman, 21, died of a heroin overdose in July.
“For him to overdose, that just shocked everyone,” said Brian Goudy, Bruckman’s brother.
Now, two of Bruckman’s best friends are awaiting sentencing in federal court on firearm and drug charges, and the drug-infested motel where a handful of Coppell’s young people got high has been shut down.
A loyal friend
Growing up wasn’t easy on Bruckman and Goudy — the brothers are 10 years apart and have another brother who is 18.
They have the same mom and different dads. When their mom walked out when Bruckman was around 11, Goudy, who was already in college, became a guardian for his younger brother.
“Me and him were really close,” Goudy said. “We even started a clothing line together.”
The clothing line — G-Quote Apparel Co. — features Bruckman as one of the company’s models. It was a role he was shy about at first, so he started spending time at the gym.
The line sells graphic shirts with inspiring quotes.
“Tough times don’t last, but tough people do.”
“When you’re about to quit, remember why you started.”
“Don’t quit. You’re already in pain. Get a reward from it.”
The clothing line is one that “believes in hard work, dedication, consistency and accountability,” according to its website.
It’s the same mantra that Bruckman lived by.
“He was one of the hardest working guys I’ve ever met,” Goudy said.
The 21-year-old was on the manager’s track at Jimmy John’s and had an opportunity to become a managing partner at a Smoothie King in Southlake.
On the side, he was a loyal friend who wanted to see everyone succeed. So when his friends started hanging out at the Han Gil Hotel in Dallas, he started calling their parents.
“He was the one always trying to get people off of drugs,” Goudy said. “One of his best friends was battling with heroin, and he called me in tears and he said he needed to talk to (his friend’s) dad, and he called him. He did that on several occasions. So, for him to turn around and pass like that, there’s something missing there’s something not adding up.”
Goudy said Bruckman snorted the fatal dose. He doesn’t even know if his brother knew that the white powder was heroin. It’s one of the many unanswered questions he has to live with.
The heroin had been cut with a fatal dose of fentanyl, according to federal court documents.
That batch, which the documents say was sold to Bruckman by his friends — Madison Brekke and Karim Selim — is also responsible for the death of another 21-year-old from Coppell, Reno Nugent.
In early March, federal authorities raided the Han Gil Hotel, at 11301 Dennis Road. It’s since been shut down and the owner, Su Amos Mun, is being sued by the government. Mun also is charged in federal court with maintaining a drug-involved premises.
Mun’s attorney didn’t immediately return a phone call or email seeking comment.
The hotel is less than a mile from Herbert Marcus Elementary and was a “breeding ground for escalating criminal activity,” according to court documents. The complaint against Mun said the building was a “drug haven masquerading as a hotel.”
There have been three deaths at the hotel, two non-fatal shootings and more than a dozen drug-related incidents in the last year, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
It’s also where federal authorities found Brekke and Selim in August.
Investigators with the Coppell Police Department were tipped off to Brekke and Selim in July, after Nugent died. Text messages on Nugent’s phone showed conversations between him and Selim about getting “China white,” which the document says is a “highly potent form of heroin.”
On Aug. 1, local police and the Drug Enforcement Administration went to the hotel, where they knew Brekke and Selim had been staying.
Brekke answered the door, told them about a gun that was in her nightstand, and said she uses it as protection.
She told the officers she is a heroin addict and had a “twenty” that morning that she shot up, the document says. Brekke and Selim were arrested the next day.
“I’ll be honest with you, since his funeral, I’ve been really doped up,” she told the officers.
It’s not clear if she was talking about Bruckman or Nugent’s funeral. But Goudy said Bruckman and Brekke had been close friends since elementary school.
On July 21, Brekke wrote about Bruckman’s death on her Instagram.
“You were the first man I ever loved & who taught me what love can bare and if it’s true love,” she wrote. “I’m having the hardest time trying to accept this & move forward.”
Both went to school in Coppell and bonded over their love of basketball.
“You always made me see who I truly was,” she wrote. “You introduced me to my family that weren’t my own blood. You even introduced me to (Selim), which I’m so thankful.”
Goudy said that he has known Brekke and Selim for years.
“They were great kids,” he said. “Coppell is a pretty wealthy town and Justin and I weren’t wealthy, but Karim and Madison had good parents, everything kids needed. I don’t know when things took a toll for them. They weren’t hellraisers or anything like that.”
Goudy said he’s been told that Mun didn’t let anyone call 911 the night his brother died.
“I need him to be brought to justice.”
Brekke and Selim are awaiting sentencing on a charge of possessing a firearm while being an unlawful user of a controlled substance.
A Fort Worth Star-Telegram reporter was barred from a hearing regarding Brekke’s case in January, but attorneys said it was a short hearing to reset the sentencing date.