What we know about Deputy Darren Almendarez, veteran fatally shot by catalytic converter thieves: HCSO

HOUSTON – KPRC 2 is learning more about a Harris County sheriff’s deputy who died after he was shot while trying to stop suspects from stealing his catalytic convert during a trip to the grocery store Thursday night, according to officials.

The deputy, who has been identified as Darren Almendarez, 51, was with his wife at a grocery store located on 2929 FM 1960 at Aldine Westfield when authorities said two or three suspects were outside Deputy attempting to steal the deputy’s catalytic convert when the incident began .

Deputies said Almendarez attempted to stop the suspects before they exchanged gunfire. The deputy returned fire but was ultimately struck by a bullet, HCSO said. The incident took place in front of his wife.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said this is a tragic loss for the deputy’s family and law enforcement. He described the 23-year HCSO veteran as an outstanding deputy and person.

READ MORE: Off-duty HCSO killed in shootout with suspects deputy to steal catalytic convert from grocery store parking lot identified: Sheriff

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Gonzalez said the deputy started as a detention officer, went to work for patrol and has been in investigations. His latest and current assignment was on the Auto Theft Task Force.

While the victim had what Gonzalez described as a “stellar career,” he also faced some hardships throughout his life.

“Deputy Almendarez was a fighter. I mean, he was a warrior in every sense of the word,” Gonzalez said. “I’m told that early in life, in his young adulthood, he was working at a fast-food restaurant for a bit moment. I’m told he was homeless. He was trying to make ends meet as a young man.”

Gonzalez said the deputy had the “fire and grit” to become a successful and accomplished deputy.

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