Three men in Texas are facing capital murder charges in connection to a shooting that resulted in the death of an off-duty sheriff’s deputy this week, authorities say.
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.
Almendarez was shot during a gunfire exchange with the suspects, according to tweets from Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez.
Following the shooting, Almendarez and two of the men were taken to the same hospital.
Almendarez and one of the men were in critical condition while the other one was in serious condition, but the deputy 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 following the shooting was arrested late Friday night on capital murder charges as well, according to Gonzalez.
Harris County court records do not list attorneys who could speak on behalf of Stewart, Clark or Tardy.
Almendarez was an agency veteran of 23 years, serving in the auto theft unit for the past year. The agency recently showcased his work in 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 on how to avoid buying a stolen car as the market grows for used vehicles.
“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.”