HARRIS COUNTY, Texas - Family, friends, and brothers and sisters in blue are bidding their final farewell to fallen Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Almendarez today.
The visitation and funeral service were held for the HCSO deputy at Humble First Assembly of God located in the 1900 block of FM 1960 Bypass Road.
His family had a private visitation at the church for an hour before it opened to the public at 11 a.m.
The funeral service, which began at noon, featured testimony from Sheriff Ed Gonzalez and two of Dep. Almendarez's sergeants.
But it was his wife Flor, who provided a very emotional eulogy about the love they shared and their relationship.
She drew laughs when she joked about how he was a "fraud to the county" because he wasn't bilingual. She said he would call her to ask how to say certain words in Spanish, including firearm – which he incorrectly called firework.
But it was the last moments they shared as he confronted the men who killed him, that gripped the room.
"Your last words to me were, 'Wait right here, babe,' coming out of the store. And then you disappear on me. Then you said to me, 'Run, babe!' I couldn't leave -- turn away from you. I walked away. Your next words were, 'Call 911, babe!' Then I ran to you. Your next words to me were, 'I love you, babe ... I can't breathe."
She held him one last time, before paramedics arrived.
"I don't eat," she said. "I think since Thursday, I've had six hours of sleep."
Their daughter Andrea followed, sharing some of her fond memories of him, including one about his fear of heights that drew laughter.
"So we all know that he was afraid of heights. He was so afraid that one time we went to the carnival to get on the Ferris wheel. He wouldn't go with me, so he made me go with a stranger," Andrea recounted.
She said she was grateful to be his daughter. "I'm glad I got to spend 14 years of my life as a daddy's girl."
Following the service, police honors were rendered outside, which included a flyover.
A procession is now escorting the fallen deputy to the burial at Brookside along the Eastex Freeway.
Deputy Almendarez, 51, was a 23-year veteran of the Harris County Sheriff’s Office.
The deputy was off-duty when he was killed in the parking lot of a grocery store on March 31. Authorities said he was shot while confronting catalytic converter thieves targeting his truck.
The fallen deputy is described by fellow officers as a beacon of light, and it was just like him to protect and serve, even while off-duty.
Watch the full funeral service and police honors rendering in the YouTube Video below or by clicking here.