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Deputy Darren Almendarez update: Prosecutors announce they will seek death penalty in capital murder case

Deputy Almendarez died after he was wounded during a shootout with three men he confronted Thursday night.

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas — Prosecutors announced they will seek the death penalty in the shooting death of Harris County Deputy Darren Almendarez.

The Harris County District Attorney's Office made the announcement Monday morning following the court appearance of Joshua Stewart, 23. He is the eldest of the three suspects charged in connection with Deputy Almendarez's death.

Stewart, along with Fredarius Clark, 19, and Fredrick Tardy, 17, is charged with capital murder. Stewart will be held without bond at least until his next hearing. 

Deputy Almendarez was shot and killed during a shootout Thursday night in north Harris County. 

Earlier Monday morning, the body of Deputy Almendarez was escorted from the Medical Examiner's Office to a funeral home in northeast Houston. The deputy was transported from the Medical Examiner’s Office to Brookside Funeral Home, located at 13747 Eastex Freeway.

What happened

Investigators said Deputy Almendarez died after he was wounded during a shootout with three men he confronted Thursday night.

According to investigators, the incident happened just after 8:30 p.m. outside of the Joe V’s grocery store in the 2900 block of FM 1960 in north Harris County.

RELATED: HCSO Deputy Darren Almendarez remembered as fighter and warrior with a 'stellar' 23-year career

He and his wife were leaving the store when he saw two men underneath his pickup truck trying to steal his catalytic convertor. According to investigators, Deputy Almendarez told his wife to seek safety as he approached the vehicle.

The sheriff's office said the men opened fire on the deputy and he was able to shoot back, wounding two of them.

Almendarez was taken to the hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

Watch procession for Deputy Almendarez to Medical Examiner's Office.

Suspects charged with capital murder

Three men have been charged in connection with Deputy Almendarez’s shooting death.

Joshua Stewart, 23, and Fredarius Clark, 19, were charged Friday with capital murder in connection to this shooting.

The sheriff’s office said Stewart and Clark arrived at the same hospital in the suspect vehicle a short time after the shootout with Deputy Almendarez Thursday night.

Credit: Harris County Sheriff's Office
Mugshots: Joshua Stewart (left), Fredarius Clark

A third suspect was arrested Friday night in connection the shooting death. The suspect was identified as 17-year-old Fredrick Tardy, the sheriff said. He also has been charged with capital murder.

Details of his arrest are unknown at this time. A mugshot of Tardy has not been released.

‘He had a heart of gold’

On Sunday, Deputy Almendarez's family had the barbecue they were supposed to have on Friday to celebrate his sister's birthday.

Sadly, they had to have it without him.

RELATED: HCSO Deputy Darren Almendarez: Family describes fallen deputy as self-made man

Instead of celebrating, they are left remembering the family man who lost his life Thursday night when he was shot by suspects allegedly trying to steal his truck's catalytic converter while he was grocery shopping with his wife.

His 14-year-old daughter, Andrea Almendarez, spoke to KHOU 11 News with her family by her side. She remembers their daddy-daughter dates. Her hat that reads "Daddy's Girl" says it all.

“He was a very caring person. He was very, very loving," she said.

Almendarez came from a big family. He was one of 12 siblings. His brothers and sisters remember the man who they say, "had heart of gold.

"He really did. Everybody who met him loved him," his brother, Steve, said. “We’re devastated. I don’t know how we’re going to do it."

Almendarez's sister, Margarita, remembers the self-made man who worked at a fast-food restaurant to make ends meet.

“My dad looked through the window and saw him mopping the floors. He said he did whatever he had to do to survive,” Margarita said.

He was shopping for his sister Shirley's birthday when he was killed. She remembers him as a protector who served his community the same way he served his family.

“He would still always offer me ... during bad weather to come stay with him because he wanted me to be safe. And that’s just how my brother is. He’s an amazing, amazing brother," Shirley said.

Andrea, surrounded by her family, said it best.

“He was a hero," Andrea said.

Almendarez's niece, Alice, who lost her own father, said her uncle was there for her every step of the way.

"He loved to protect and serve, but he loved to protect and guide us, too ... they stole our father father figure from all of us. He's irreplaceable," Alice said.

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