HOUSTON - A procession was held Monday morning for Deputy Darren Almendarez with the Harris Co. Sheriff's Office, who was tragically killed off-duty while confronting catalytic converter thieves targeting his truck outside a grocery store.
"This morning, we're out here to honor a fallen hero with the highest possible honors that we could do," Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said before the procession began. "We did a cordon of honor, and then we also are preparing for the procession that will take him to the funeral home, and ultimately, his final resting place."
The procession for Harris County Deputy Darren Almendarez begins on Old Spanish Trail.
The procession began at 8 a.m. at the Harris County Institute of Forensic Sciences on Old Spanish Trail and went to Brookside Funeral Home at 13747 Eastex Fwy.
The procession for fallen Harris County Sheriff's Office Deputy Darren Almendarez arrives at Brookside Funeral Home.
Deputy Almendarez, 51, was said to be leaving a Joe V's grocery store on FM 1960 in northwest Harris County Thursday night with his wife when he apparently spotted some suspects attempting to steal his truck’s catalytic converter.
According to the sheriff's office, Almendarez saw a black Nissan Altima backed up to his truck and two males under his vehicle. He told his wife to walk to safety and then approached, authorities say.
Harris Co. deputy Darren Almendarez (Photo courtesy of HCSO)
As Almedarez approached the vehicles, the suspects began shooting at him, the sheriff's office says and was hit several times.
According to HCSO, the deputy was able to return fire and shot at least two of the suspects before they drove off from the scene
Almendarez was taken to HCA Houston Healthcare Northwest, where he later died. Two of the wounded suspects, later identified by HCSO as Joshua Stewart, 23, and Fredarius Clark, 19 arrived at the same hospital in their vehicle a short time later. Both were charged with capital murder.
Fredarius Clark (L) and Joshua Stewart (R) are charged with Capital Murder in the death of veteran Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Almendarez.
It was later revealed by the sheriff's office that three men were in the suspects' vehicle right before the shooting. The third suspect, Frederick Tardy, 17, was arrested on the North Freeway Friday.
The 23-year veteran with HCSO was described by fellow officers as a beacon of light, and it was just like Deputy Almendarez to protect and serve, even while off-duty.