NORTHEAST HOUSTON – Last Saturday, August 19 the Pct.2 Community Center was renamed in honor of fallen Harris County Sheriff’s Deputy Darren Almendarez.

Almendarez was a resident of the East Aldine community which he served, and was killed on March 31, 2022 while attempting to stop a theft of a catalytic converter from a pickup truck in North Houston.

Present at the naming ceremony was his wife, Flor Zarzoza, family and friends, community members, and many officials and guests. These included Pct. 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia, Harris County Sheriff Ed Gonzalez, State Senator Carol Alvarado, State Representative Armando Walle, and HCSO Chaplain Don Savell, all of whom spoke during the ceremony.

The Center was renamed in honor of fallen HCSO Deputy Darren Almendarez. On March 31st, 2022, Almendarez was shot and killed, while off duty, when he confronted three men attempting to steal a catalytic converter in the parking lot of an area-grocery store. Almendarez’s heroic actions saved lives and led to the suspects being caught and charged with murder.

Later his widow led a movement to pass a new law in Texas, known as the Almendarez Law, to toughen penalties for catalytic converter thefts. Aiding with the passage of this law was Senator Alvarado and Rep. Walle.

Speaking at the ceremony, Commissioner Adrian Garcia said it was appropriate to name the center in his honor, as a place “to respect and remember him and keep his memory alive.” Garcia said it would recognize his courage, and his oath to serve and protect and defend the public.

Sheriff Ed Gonzalez said that naming a building is always reserved for the very best, and that “Darren was the best. He was an incredible hero, and his final act was given in service to the public good.”

State Senator Carol Alvarado led the effort in the state legislature to pass the Almendarez Law. She said he was “one of a kind” as an individual, and it was appropriate that his name would be on a building next to a “one of a kind” park, to always be remembered that way.

In his remarks, State Representative Armando Walle mentioned that he was a “home boy” and grew up a few blocks from the community center and park. He said how appropriate that it would be named in honor of another who lived and served only a few blocks away. Armando remembered Darren as a kind and gentle person, who never complained. Yet he also told the story of how at a meeting, when a person seemed to threaten Walle, Darren was there to “have your back.” Armando said Darren was someone you could always count on. In turn, Armando promised to Flor that he would always have her back in support in the future. On Darren, Armando said that he led by example of service in his community, and paid the ultimate price for that service.

Flor Zarzoza was the last speaker, and said it was “an honor to be here.” She described her despair at Darren’s death, as “I’m broken. I don’t have a lot of memories of the last year or so.” She told about how much the park and building meant to her, and that she and Darren would often come there to walk or jog.

Flor said that “Darren was my inspiration, because he did so much for our community. Now I think of him as my Hero.”

Speaking to the audience, she said, “We have a long way to go. I’m not done fighting for Darren.”

“Darren is my Hero. A wonderful Father and Stepfather. I miss him dearly.”

Commissioner Garcia closed the ceremonies, saying, “We will do all we can to recognize the legacy of your incredible partner.”