Authorities in Florida say the man who shot and killed two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies at the Ace China restaurant yesterday (Thursday, April 19, 2018) had entered the establishment before firing the weapon. Officials say 58-year-old John Hubert Highnote of Bell shot Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, at mid afternoon before turning the gun on himself. Earlier reports had indicated the men were shot through a window from the outside the restaurant in Trenton, west of Gainesville and about two hours south of Jacksonville.
Alachua County Lt. Scott Tummond said at a news conference this morning the shooter entered the restaurant and immediately opened fire, leaving the deputies with no time to react. Authorities in neighboring Alachua County have been acting as public-information officers on behalf of Gilchrist County. Tummond said the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office had no previous interaction with Highnote.
The shooter’s motive wasn’t immediately known, but the sheriff blamed Thursday’s killings on hatred toward law enforcement in society.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz says law enforcement has been “demonized” by “every type of hate,” and the only thing his deputies were guilty of was “wanting to protect you and me.”
According to Schultz, Ramirez and Lindsay “were the best of the best.”
“They don’t need to be remembered strictly for their untimely death, but they need to be remembered for the type of people that they are,” Schultz said. “And that’s good individuals, good deputy sheriffs.”
He said he knew both men personally and said he “loved them.”
The department will grieve and be upset, Schultz said, but the department will “honor these men by doing our jobs. We will honor them by doing what we’re supposed to do.”
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued a statement, saying, “My heart breaks with the tragic news of two Gilchrist County deputies that were senselessly killed today while in the line of duty.”
“The daily risk that law enforcement officers take to protect our communities is overwhelming,” Bondi’s statement continued. “My deepest condolences and prayers are with their families as they mourn the devastating loss of their loved ones. May their families, friends and fellow officers find peace and comfort during this very difficult time.”
The Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office tweeted it had “suffered a terrible tragedy.” The office said there were no suspects “at large” and asked the public to stay away from the area.
Gov. Rick Scott in a statement said he and his wife “are heartbroken by the loss of the two law-enforcement officers in Trenton.”
“It is a true evil for anyone to hurt a law enforcement officer, and in Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence, especially against police,” he continued. “Tonight, I ask every Floridian to honor these law enforcement officers, their brothers and sisters in uniform and their families. May God bless those who work to keep our communities safe.”
President Trump offered his condolences to “the families, friends and colleagues of the two @GCSOFlorida deputies (HEROES) who lost their lives in the line of duty today.”