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Three men face charged with capital murder in Texas deputy’s fatal shooting

Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Almendarez, 51, died after a shooting between him and three men who authorities say were trying to steal his truck’s catalytic converter.
Deputy Darren Almendarez
Deputy Darren Almendarez.Harris County Sheriff's Office

Three men in Texas are charged with capital murder in connection with a shooting that led to the death of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy last week, authorities said.

Harris County Sheriff's Deputy Darren Almendarez, 51, and his wife were buying food at a grocery store Thursday night. As the couple exited the Houston-area store, Almendarez saw three men trying to steal his truck’s catalytic converter, authorities said.

Almendarez was shot in an exchange of gunfire with the men, according to tweets from Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.

Almendarez and two of the men were taken to the same hospital.

Almendarez and one of the men were initially listed in critical condition, while the other one was in serious condition. Almendarez died a few hours later, Gonzalez said.

The two wounded men, identified by police as Joshua Stewart, 23, and Fredarius Clark, 19, were arrested on capital murder charges at the hospital, authorities said Friday.

Fredrick Tardy, 17, a third suspect who remained at large after the shooting, was arrested late Friday on a capital murder charge, as well, Gonzalez said.

Harris County court records did not list attorneys who could speak on behalf of Stewart, Clark or Tardy.

Almendarez was a 23-year veteran of the sheriff’s department, having served in the auto theft unit for the past year. The agency recently showcased his work with the auto theft unit in a ride-along video published Jan. 7.

In it, Almendarez demonstrates what a day at his job looks like and gives people tips about how to avoid buying a stolen car as the market for used vehicles grows.

“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,” Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement Friday. “The State of Texas is ready to provide all resources necessary to bring justice to the family and loved ones of Deputy Almendarez.”