Harris County, TX – One of three suspects allegedly involved in the capital murder of Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Almendarez was granted bond on Wednesday.
Fredrick Tardy, 17, allegedly cut his hair in an attempt to alter his appearance after he and his co-defendants, 19-year-old Fredarius Clark and 23-year-old Joshua Stewart, murdered the off-duty deputy outside a grocery store on March 31, KRIV reported.
All three suspects have been charged with capital murder.
Clark and Stewart were ordered to be held without bond during a court hearing on Tuesday, KTRK reported.
During Tardy’s court appearance the following day, Tardy’s attorney argued that his client only receives $500 from social security and requested his bond be set at no more than $250,000, according to KTRK.
Prosecutors asked the court to set bond at $3 million, which Tardy’s attorney blasted as an “obscene” figure.
The judge set bond at $750,000.
Clark and Stewart are both facing a potential death penalty in connection with Deputy Almendarez’s murder, but Tardy is ineligible for that penalty due to his age.
If released on bond, Tardy must remain under house arrest and can only leave his home to meet with his lawyer, KTRK reported.
His next court appearance has been set for Aug. 23, according to KPRC.
These are the two men accused of murdering @HCSOTexas deputy Darren Almendarez last night.
Fredarius Clark, 19 and Joshua Stewart, 23.
— Marcelino Benito (@MarcelinoKHOU) April 1, 2022
Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said the fatal shooting occurred near the intersection of Aldine Westfield Road and FM 1960 at approximately 8:40 p.m. on March 31, KHOU reported.
Deputy Almendarez, 51, was off-duty and shopping with his wife in preparation for his sister’s birthday party just prior to the incident, Sheriff Gonzalez said.
They were walking out of the grocery store when Deputy Almendarez spotted three suspects trying to steal the catalytic converter off his vehicle in the parking lot, according to investigators.
“He told his wife to run, to get away from danger as he put himself in harm’s way to protect the rest of the community and to try and stop a crime,” Sheriff Gonzalez told reporters.
The sheriff said the deputy confronted the suspects, at which point at least one of them allegedly pulled out a gun, KHOU reported.
Deputy Almendarez struggled with the suspect and attempted to disarm him before he drew his own weapon.
Deputy Almendarez was fatally wounded during the ensuing exchange of fire, KHOU reported.
Despite his injuries, the veteran deputy returned fire and shot Stewart and Clark, both of whom were arrested after they drove themselves to Houston Northwest Hospital, where Deputy Almendarez was also taken, according to KPRC.
“Deputy Almendarez was a fighter,” Sheriff Gonzalez told KPRC. “He was a warrior in every sense of the word.”
Investigators later tracked Hardy down and arrested him while he was traveling in a vehicle allegedly “containing two firearms and tools associated with catalytic converter theft,” KRIV reported.
Deputy Almendarez served the HCSO for 23 years and was assigned to the agency’s Auto Theft Division at the time of his murder, KHOU reported.
The sheriff said the veteran deputy spent a portion of his life homeless and working in fast-food service before he decided to devote his life to serving his community.
Deputy Almendarez was “doing what he did best” the night he was murdered, according to Sheriff Gonzalez.
“He was out there fighting crime,” the sheriff said.
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
Deputy Almendarez leaves behind his wife and children, as well as his mother and his sister, KHOU reported.
During Stewart and Clark’s Proof Evident hearing on Tuesday, prosecutors played surveillance footage of another shooting that took place just two weeks prior to Deputy Almendarez’s murder, KTRK reported.
Prosecutors alleged the same trio of suspects was trying to steal another victim’s catalytic converter during that incident.
The victim of the shooting survived and identified Stewart as the gunman during his courtroom testimony, KTRK reported.
Deputy Almendarez’s family also watched gut-wrenching video footage showing the veteran deputy’s murder during Tuesday’s hearing.
“There were so many other stories going around as to how many times he was shot, what happened, who he was wrestling with,” the slain deputy’s brother, Steve Almendarez, told KTRK. “It was good to see for myself because now I know what really happened. If anything, he went down fighting and I’ve seen that. He did his job, all the way to his last breath. He took criminals off the street.”