The third suspect wanted for the murder of Texas Deputy Darren Almendarez has been arrested and charged with capital murder, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzales announced Friday.
Almendarez, 51, was fatally shot outside Joe V’s Smart Shop grocery store on Thursday after spotting three suspects in the parking lot attempting to steal the catalytic converter from his truck.
Following the initial arrests of Joshua Stewart, 23, and Fredarius Clark, 19, on Friday evening, the Harris County Deputies’ Organization sent a pointed message to the third “coward that’s running”: “You’re going to get caught. Turn your a– in.”
“Turn your a** in.” Message from @hcdofop39 for the third suspect in @HCSOTexas Deputy Darren Almendarez’s murder. I’ll have more from those who knew the deputy coming up on @KHOU at 4,5,6. Latest on incident/investigation here: https://t.co/e7jTmnbtfp #khou11 pic.twitter.com/bx1xUXC7Qq
— Jason Miles (@JMilesKHOU) April 1, 2022
Later in the night, Sheriff Gonzales tweeted out an arrest update: “Seventeen (17) year old Fredrick Tardy has been arrested and charged with Capital Murder in the death of Deputy Almendarez.”
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) April 2, 2022
Early Friday morning, the Harris County Sheriff’s office announced the sad death, describing Almendarez as an “agency veteran of 23 years,” who had served in the auto theft unit “for the past year.”
Gonzalez called the loss “heartbreaking” as he tweeted the tragic details of the deputy’s death.
“He and his wife were out buying groceries; last night was his sister’s bday and he was planning to have a cookout today in celebration,” Gonzalez said. “As the couple exited the store with the cart, it appears he spotted suspects attempting to steal his truck’s catalytic converter. He told his wife to run, as he encountered multiple suspects. Gunfire was exchanged between he and suspects. Sadly, Deputy Almendarez was fatally wounded. May he Rest In Peace.”
spotted suspects attempting to steal his truck’s catalytic converter. He told his wife to run, as he encountered multiple suspects. Gunfire was exchanged between he and suspects. Sadly, Deputy Almendarez was fatally wounded. May he Rest In Peace. #HouNews
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) April 1, 2022
According to Fox News, “The three suspects had backed their Nissan up to Almendarez’s truck, and the off-duty deputy then spotted two of the suspects beneath his vehicle.”
The suspects allegedly opened fire as Almendarez approached their truck, striking the deputy several times. Still, Almendarez was able to return fire, injuring Stewart and Clark who fled the scene and drove to the hospital.
In a statement released Friday morning, Texas Governor Greg Abbott said, “Deputy Darren Almendarez lost his life while answering the call to serve and protect his fellow Texans, and this tragedy is a heartbreaking reminder of the sacrifices our law enforcement officers make both on and off duty. The State of Texas is ready to provide all resources necessary to bring justice to the family and loved ones of Deputy Almendarez.”
“I ask that Texans join Cecilia and me in prayer for Deputy Almendarez’s family and for the continued safety of all our law enforcement officers across the Lone Star State,” Abbott continued.
Later, the governor tweeted out a single sentence on the matter: “Cop killers deserve the death penalty.”
Harris County Deputy Darren Almendarez lost his life while answering the call to serve & protect his fellow Texans.
This is a heartbreaking reminder of the sacrifices our officers make both on & off duty.
Please join Cecilia & me in prayer for Deputy Almendarez's family. pic.twitter.com/uQNE7ZZ9ac
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 1, 2022
— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) April 2, 2022
Gonzalez paid tribute to the fallen officer, calling him a “remarkable man and public servant.”
“Humble beginnings, grew up in Second Ward and played sports at Settegast Park. From his first job as a teen at Whataburger on Harrisburg to fulfilling his goal of being a cop,” Sheriff Gonzalez tweeted. “End of watch.”
A remarkable man and public servant. Humble beginnings, grew up in Second Ward and played sports at Settegast Park. From his first job as a teen at Whataburger on Harrisburg to fulfilling his goal of being a cop. He actually graduated from Austin HS, not Milby. End of Watch, https://t.co/X9TUNAr4dx
— Ed Gonzalez (@SheriffEd_HCSO) April 2, 2022
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