HARRIS COUNTY, Texas – Bond has been set at $750,000 for the teen accused in the murder of Harris County Deputy Darren Almendarez, who was shot and killed trying to stop a trio of catalytic converter thieves in late March, prosecutors said.
Joshua Stewart, 23; Fredarius Clark, 19; and Fredrick James Tardy, 17 have each been charged with capital murder.
On March 31, Almendarez and his wife were at a Joe V’s grocery store in the 2900 block of FM 1960 buying supplies for his sister’s birthday celebration. The couple was walking out of the store when Almendarez caught the men in the act of stealing the part from underneath his truck, investigators said.
Almendarez told his wife to go to a safe place, and walked toward the trio.
That is when the suspects allegedly began shooting, striking Almendarez multiple times.
The off-duty deputy managed to return fire, striking two of them.
Mrs. Almendarez said the last thing her husband said to her was “I love you, babe, I can’t breathe,” as she held him in her arms. He was then rushed to Houston Northwest Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
With heavy hearts, we mourn the loss of Harris County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Darren Almendarez, 51. An agency veteran of 23 years, he served in our auto theft unit for the past year. Our thoughts & prayers go out to his wife, children, his extended family, colleagues & friends. pic.twitter.com/PvzsBQfa48— HCSOTexas (@HCSOTexas) April 1, 2022
Stewart and Clark drove themselves to the same hospital to be treated for their gunshot wounds. They were taken into custody from there, according to investigators.
Tardy was later arrested.
Deputy Almendarez was 51 years old and a dedicated 23-year veteran law enforcement officer, assigned to the Auto Theft Task Force.
He was hailed a hero with “true grit” by everyone who knew and loved him.
Sheriff Ed Gonzalez called his death an outrage.
“If a hero is not safe in his own community, then the general public is not, and we’re not going to tolerate that,” Gonzalez said.
Tardy, the teen suspect, went before a judge Wednesday and was given a bond. As of now, he remains behind bars at the Harris County Jail and is scheduled to make his next court appearance on Aug. 23.
On Tuesday, bonds were denied for Stewart and Clark.
Stewart’s next scheduled court date is Aug. 18, and Clark is scheduled to appear again on Aug. 16.