GILCHRIST COUNTY, Florida — A gunman shot and killed two sheriff’s deputies in a restaurant in Gilchrist County, Fla., on Thursday, in an attack that seems to have come with no warning.
Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, were shot through the window. The gunman was later found dead nearby.
Both deputies were considered “the best of the best” by Sheriff Bobby Schultz, “They’re men of integrity, they’re men of loyalty. They’re God-fearing, and they loved what they did. And we’re very proud of them.”
The deputies were on duty and had sat down to eat at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton around 3 p.m. when a gunman started firing at them from outside, the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office said.
Deputies and others who responded to an emergency call about the shooting found a man believed to be the gunman nearby, dead from a gunshot wound. He was identified as 59-year-old John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell, Florida. — a nearby town in the northern Florida county.
When a reporter asked the sheriff to confirm whether Highnote had committed suicide in his car near the restaurant, the sheriff declined to comment, citing both an ongoing state investigation into the killings and his own perspective.
“I want this to be about those deputy sheriffs, I think that you can respect that,” Schultz said at a media gathering late Thursday afternoon. He added, “The world’s full of cowards, and the world’s full of heroes. We need to highlight those heroes, and what they gave.”
Ramirez was a seven-year veteran of law enforcement who had a wife and two young children. Lindsey had worked with the force for a total of more than three years; he had recently returned to working at the sheriff’s office.
A possible motive for the shooting has not been released. Twice during his media briefing on Thursday, Sheriff Schultz mentioned negative public attitudes about law enforcement officers.
“What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent that it’s been demonized?” he asked at one point.
Schultz added, “The only thing these men were guilty of was wanting to protect you and me. They just wanted to go get something to eat. And they just wanted to do their job.”