Harris County Sheriff’s Off-Duty Deputy Darren Almendarez dies after shooting outside Joe V’s Smart Shop

HARRIS COUNTY, Texas (KTRK) – An off-duty deputy from the Harris County Sheriff’s Office has died after being shot in a grocery store parking lot.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said he was shot while confronting suspected car thieves outside Joe V’s Smart Shop on the 2900 block of FM 1960 in Aldine Westfield at 8:40 p.m. Thursday.

“We shot a man in the chest,” first responders said over the radio.

Crime scene video shows how many shots were fired. The suspects’ car windshield was riddled with bullet holes.

MPs said the suspects drove themselves to the hospital after the shooting.

Two suspects were shot and are now being hospitalized and a third suspect is said to be on the run.

Gonzalez said the MP, identified as 51-year-old Darren Almendarez, was protective of his wife in his final moments.

Almendarez is a 23-year veteran in the sheriff’s office. He was assigned to the Auto Theft Division.

Deputies said Almendarez’s wife spotted suspects trying to steal the catalytic converter from the couple’s truck as they exited the grocery store.

Gonzalez said Almendarez told his wife to stay back when he approached the suspects. Then one of the three men started shooting.

Almendarez was shot and he fired back, investigators said. Two of the three suspects were also shot dead.

“On a personal level and as a sheriff, that’s evil. We have evil individuals out there,” Gonzalez said of the shooting.

The off-duty MP was taken to hospital, where he was later pronounced dead.

“Because I know him personally and professionally, I can say he would have done the same,” Chief Deputy Edison Toquica said. “Ironically, it happened to be his truck.”

Deputies investigated a second crime scene less than a mile down the road at Circle K.

Investigators cordoned off the parking lot and towed an SUV.

MPs said the two scenes were linked but gave no details on how.

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Copyright © 2022 KTRK-TV. All rights reserved. Harris County Sheriff’s Off-Duty Deputy Darren Almendarez dies after shooting outside Joe V’s Smart Shop

Dais Johnston

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