Sergeant Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office deputies fatally shot in an ambush at a Chinese restaurant in Trenton, Florida, were remembered as “the best of the best” and officers who were men of integrity and loyalty.
A statement from the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Department indicated the shootings were completely unprovoked. The Gilchrist County sheriff’s spokesman told Heavy on April 20 that the gunman went inside the restaurant and ambushed the deputies as they ate. Previously, authorities had said the deputies were executed through a window as they simply sat there eating a meal, but further investigation clarified that information. The double shooting occurred in Trenton, Florida.
Ramirez was 30 and Lindsey was 25, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said at a press conference. Many details about the shooting have not been released because of the ongoing investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement. The sheriff called the gunman a “coward.” He was identified as John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell, Florida. A GoFundMe site has been started to help the young children of Ramirez.
“They were God-fearing, and they loved what they did and were very proud of it,” the emotional sheriff said of the deputies. “I loved them and they were loved, and I met with the families today and told them they can be proud of those men. They can be proud, and I’ve proud to have been their sheriff.”
“What do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent it’s been demonized? Every type of hate, every type of put down you can think of, the only thing these men were guilty of was protecting you and me. They just wanted to get something to eat. And to do their jobs,” the sheriff added. He said the slayings hit him “like a ton of bricks.”
Here’s what you need to know about the incident and the two officers:
1. The Suspect Walked Up & Shot the Deputies as They Ate Inside a Chinese Restaurant
A press release from the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Department describes the horrific situation. “Both our heroes had simply sat down to eat while on duty. There was no crime in progress, no disturbance. The suspect appears to have walked to the front of the business and shot both men without warning. Two holes in the window are visible tonight,” the Sheriff’s Department said in a release. As noted, authorities have since clarified that they believe Highnote strolled into the restaurant and targeted the deputies there.
The shooting unfolded at 3 p.m. in the afternoon of April 19, 2018. “At approximately 3:00 p.m. this afternoon, two Gilchrist County Deputy Sheriffs were shot and killed in the Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton,” the press release stated.
The department announced on Twitter, “GILCHRIST COUNTY SHERIFF’S OFFICE has suffered a terrible tragedy. Please avoid the area of SR 26 from the red light to the area of subway. No suspects are at large. Further updates will be posted later.”
The Sheriff’s Department indicated that a motive was not yet known. “At this point, it remains an active criminal investigation with no apparent motive or indications as to why this tragedy occurred,” the press release said.
More details of the incident were not released because of the ongoing investigation. “Sheriff Bobby Schultz has been on scene throughout the afternoon with his deputies and their families, notifying additional loved ones,” the press release said. The sheriff focused his press conference on the two deputies’ lives, not on the details of how they died.
“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 the area to assist,” the release continued.
2. Ramirez, Who Was Married With Children, Filled His Facebook Page With Photos of Family
The Facebook page of Sergeant Ramirez shows an officer devoted to family. His most recent public post is a video of a small child on stage that he captioned “speech at Levy County Fair Pageant. #ILuvChicken.” Another photo showed him kissing a small child who was wearing a costume.
According to the sheriff, Ramirez was married with kids and Lindsey left behind a girlfriend.
In 2015, Noel wrote: “I’m a daddy again. My daughter …She was born today 5/7/15 at 3:02pm. Weights 6 lbs and 11 ounces and is 20″ tall. Thanks you God for this miracle. In love with my little princess.” Ramirez previously worked at another sheriff’s office and police department. He was promoted to sergeant about a year ago and had worked with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Department for two years, the sheriff said.
“If you’ve ever seen Sgt. Ramirez smile – infectious,” the sheriff said.
In 2013, he posted about the birth of a namesake son. “My lil miracle. Baby Lito!! Noel Ramirez the third was born on 10/29/13 @ 0718 hrs. Baby Lito weight was 6.5 lbs and height 19 1/2 inches,” he wrote. “I want to thanks God because with out him this miracle wouldn’t happen. I want to thank Gigi for giving me the best gift in the world (love u boo). I want to thanks everyone (family, friend, etc) for all ur prayers n good wishes. This is the best feeling ever.”
Ramirez posted a photo of an arm tattoo that read, “I wouldn’t change you for the world, but I would change the world for you.” The caption read, “Love you son. Daddy will always be proud of you.” He also posted a graphic that read, “I am an autism dad.”
The shooter was dead at the scene, although details of how his death unfolded were not yet released. “As fellow deputies responded to the scene, they found the shooter deceased outside the business, and both Deputy Sheriffs where they died of their wounds,” continued the release.
The governor and attorney general pledged any support necessary to help Gilchrist County as news of the attack unfolded. Trenton is located in north Florida, somewhat close to Gainesville.
3. Friends of Lindsey’s Lamented That it ‘Doesn’t Feel Real’ & Called Him ‘Such a Sweet Soul’
Friends posted tributes to Taylor Lindsey and Noel Ramirez on Facebook. “It just doesn’t seem real, I was just talking to you today at the store & you were happy to be moving back to trenton I didn’t once think that would be our last conversation, there really are no words. Rest easy Taylor & Noel,” wrote one on Lindsey’s page.
Another friend wrote on Lindsey’s page, ” I will miss my buddy Taylor Lindsey!!! He was a good guy! I feel like he is gonna text me and tell me he is ok. This doesn’t seem real…. at all!!!”
Another friend called Lindsey “such a sweet soul” and wrote: “Just when I thought this day could get NO worse… I have absolutely no words. No one should have to die doing what they love. No one should have to worry about their safety going to work or coming home from work. Especially someone like this man! I’m so lucky to have grown up with such a sweet soul but gone way too soon. What is this country coming to? I am in shock…??? Taylor Lindsey is one of the sweetest souls, he did not deserve this. He is a hero and will not be forgotten ever.”
The sheriff added: “They gave their lives so we can all be safe.”
“I’ve made contact with the families and as you’d expect you can never be prepared for something like this, but make no mistake I am proud of their families,” the sheriff continued. “They understood when their loved ones pinned on the badge and strapped on the gun, that this was a possibility. For anybody that can hear me, the sound of my voice and see my face on their TV, Sergeant Ramirez and Deputy Lindsey were the best of the best.”
4. Lindsey Was From Gainesville & Studied at Santa Fe College
According to his Facebook page, Lindsey “studied at Santa Fe College: Kirkpatrick Center Institute of Public Safety,” went to Gainesville High School, lived in Gainesville, Florida, and was single.
Lindsey had left the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Department and then recently came back, the sheriff said. “He loved doing drug interdiction” and serving people, the sheriff added.
“I don’t have answers as to why this happened,” said the sheriff. “They need to be remembered for the type of people they are…good individuals, good deputy sheriffs. We have heroes among us.”
Another friend of Lindsey’s wrote, “Praying for you & your family tonight Taylor Lindsey ?? You threw THE best tacky sweater Christmas party every Christmas break. We’re one of the kindest people I knew.”
5. President Donald Trump Offered Prayers for the ‘Heroes Who Lost Their Lives’ in Trenton
The president quickly weighed in with a tweet. “My thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues of the two @GCSOFlorida deputies (HEROES) who lost their lives in the line of duty today,” President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter.
There have been other ambush-style attacks on law enforcement officers in recent years. The summer of 2016 was an intense one in America as police shootings dominated the news and, then, the ambush style attacks against police officers from two different agencies unfolded.
Five police officers were slain by a sniper in July 2016. That attack came at the end of a protest against police shootings.
That same summer Gavin Long murdered three police officers in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. “The military veteran who killed three law enforcement officers in Baton Rouge last summer left behind a suicide note, a prayer from an Islamic holy book and an online trail of his rage against police,” reported KansasCity.com of that attack.
As noted, however, it’s not yet clear what inspired the attack in Trenton.