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Law enforcement surround Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton, Fla. where two Gilchrist County Deputy Sheriffs were shot and killed. (Grace King/WUFT News)

Sheriff: Suspect Fatally Shot Two Gilchrist Deputies In Chinese Restaurant

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Updated, April 20 at 3:40 p.m.: Gilchrist County woke up today, not to a happy end of the week, but to a Friday filled with sorrow, mourning and questions.

Questions about why a man, identified as 59-year-old John Hubert Highnote, of Bell, walked inside the Ace China Restaurant in Trenton and gunned down Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey while they ate. After killing the two lawmen, officials say Highnote got into his vehicle, where he then shot and killed himself.

Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz found himself talking to the community Thursday night about what happened.

“I’m going to let my men and women grieve, and then we’re going to put that badge back on where it’s supposed to be,” Schultz said. “Strap on that gun again, and we’re going to go out there and do our jobs because that’s what Sgt. Ramirez and Deputy Lindsey would want us to do. That’s what their family want us to do.

“And, by golly, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Sheriff Mark Read was the last Gilchrist County law enforcement officer to be killed in the line of duty; in 1956, he was killed when responding to a drunk with a shotgun.

The Shooter

What led Highnote to do what the sheriff’s office says he did is unknown. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is looking into his background.

His home in Bell sits off the main road and ten minutes down a dirt path. Three cars from Gilchrist County Fire and Rescue were parked in the driveway Friday morning as firefighters boarded up windows and doors.

John Hubert Highnote’s Bell, Fla. home. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT News)

Highnote’s home is older and flanked by his neighbor’s crops and several hundred yards of trees. The garage appeared to have been pried open. A dirty black Ford pick-up truck was parked inside. Glass from the windows and doors lay scattered across the ground.

John Hubert Highnote’s Bell, Fla. home. (Veronica Quesenberry/WUFT News)

The Deputies

Sgt. Ramirez had a wife and two children. He had been in law enforcement seven years, joining the Gilchrist department in 2016. Lindsey had been with the agency three years.

The Ace China Restaurant on East Wade Street where the shooting occurred. (Grace King/WUFT News)
Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz addresses the media. (Grace King/WUFT News)
Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz embraces a fellow law enforcement official on Thursday night. (Grace King/WUFT News)

Updated, April 19 at 8:58 p.m. Two members of the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office were shot and killed in the Ace China restaurant in Trenton today.

Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Sgt. Noel Ramirez
Gilchrist County Sheriff Deputy Taylor Lindsey

Sgt. Noel Ramirez and deputy Taylor Lindsey died from gunshot wounds after the suspect shot them while eating lunch at approximately 3 p.m., according to law enforcement.

Ramirez was a seven year veteran who previously had worked for the Levy County Sheriff’s Office and Williston Police Department before joining GCSO two years ago. He was promoted to sergeant a year ago. He was married with children, according to Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Shultz.

Deputy Lindsey recently returned to GCSO after a previous stint. He was not married, but did have a girlfriend, according to Shultz.

GCSO posted on March 31 this photo of Ramirez, far left, and Lindsey, second from left, on their Facebook page:

Shultz said he is not releasing the name of the shooter at this time.

“The world is full of cowards and the world is full of heroes,” he said. “We need to highlight those heroes for what they gave.”

Florida governor Rick Scott said in a release, “My wife, Ann, and I are heartbroken by the loss of two law enforcement officers in Trenton. I have spoken with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office and committed all available state resources they may need.”

Attorney General Pam Bondi released the following statement:

“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. 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.”   

President Donald Trump tweeted about the shooting offering his condolences to the sheriff’s office and families of the slain officers.

Shultz said the shooting remains an active criminal investigation with no apparent motive.

Officials from the Levy County Sheriff’s Office, the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the State Attorney’s Office have all responded to assist.

Shultz spent the afternoon notifying the families before speaking to media this evening.

Original post, April 19 at 5:25 p.m.: The Florida Department of Law Enforcement has confirmed there was an officer-involved shooting in Trenton this afternoon.

There are not yet confirmed fatalities, but the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office tweeted out the following at 5:10 p.m.:

FDLE spokeswoman Gretl Plessinger told us at 5:15 p.m., “Our agents have responded to the scene of an officer-involved shooting in Gilchrist County.”

Columbia County was the first law enforcement agency to post a report of the shooting on Twitter. It later deleted this message:

WUFT reporter Veronica Quesenberry and the  Associated Press contributed reporting.

Clarification appended: Law enforcement previously said the suspect shot and killed the two deputies from outside the window, but on Friday afternoon said the shooting took place within the restaurant.

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