Three suspects have been arrested and charged with killing an off-duty deputy in Texas after he caught them stealing a car part while he was grocery shopping with his wife, authorities said.
On March 31, Harris County Sheriff's Office Deputy Darren Almendarez, 51, was at Joe V’s grocery store in Houston at around 8:30 p.m.
As he and his wife were walking back to their truck, Amendarez spotted two men under the vehicle and a black Nissan Altima sedan backed up to it, the sheriff’s office said.
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez claimed the suspects were attempting to steal the catalytic converter from Amendarez’s truck.
According to authorities, Almendarez, a 23-year sheriff’s office veteran who last year began working with the auto theft unit, told his wife to walk to a safe place and he then continued toward the three males, who had since all gotten into the Altima.
“As Deputy Almendarez approached, the suspect's began discharging firearms at him,” the sheriff’s office said, noting, “Despite being struck multiple times, Deputy Almendarez was able to return fire, shooting at least two of the suspects,” who fled the parking lot in the Altima.
Almenderez was rushed to Houston Northwest Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
The sheriff’s office said two of the three suspects, Joshua Stewart, 23, and 19-year-old Fredarius Clark showed up at the same hospital a short time later with gunshot wounds.
Police arrested and charged Stewart and Clark with capital murder and later apprehended 17-year-old Fredrick Tardy and charged him with the same crime.