UPDATE: (AP) — Authorities in Florida say the man who shot two sheriff's deputies to death at a restaurant earlier this week had entered the establishment before firing the weapon.
Earlier reports had said the Gilchrest County deputies were shot through a window from the outside the restaurant in Trenton, west of Gainesville.
Gilchrest County deputies Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were killed at the Ace China restaurant. Officials say 58-year-old John Hubert Highnote of Bell shot them before killing himself.
Alachua County Lt. Scott Tummond said at a news conference Friday that 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 Bell.
Two North Florida deputies who were getting food at a restaurant were killed in the line of duty Thursday afternoon when a man fired through the window.
Around 3 p.m., two Gilchrist County deputy sheriffs were eating inside Ace China restaurant in downtown Trenton, when a man walked up to the window and shot them through the window, from outside the establishment.
According to the sheriff’s office, when fellow deputies responded to the scene, they found the shooter deceased outside the business and Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsay, 25, deceased inside. The suspect was later identified as 59-year-old John Hubert Highnote of Bell, Fla.
"At this point, it remains an active criminal investigation with no apparent motive or indications as to why this tragedy occurred," the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office wrote in a press release.
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 all responded to the area to assist.
Ace China restaurant is located on East Wade Street in Trenton, Florida, just off SR-26. Trenton is in Gilchrist County, approximately two hours north of Tampa Bay.
Sgt. Ramirez, a 7-year veteran, had been with GSCO for about two years and was recently promoted to Sergeant. He leaves behind a wife and children.
Deputy Lindsay had been with the GCSO for three years. He was not married but leaves behind his girlfriend, the sheriff's office said in a press conference Thursday.
"The world's full of cowards and the world's full of heroes, and we need to highlight those heroes and what they gave," Sheriff Bobby Schults said during the press conference. "We're going to grieve, we're going to get upset, were probably going to cus a little bit. But at the end of the day, we're going to remember those two men for what they are, and they're heroes."
"It is true evil for anyone to hurt a law enforcement officer, and in Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence, especially against the police," Florida Governor Rick Scott said in response to the
shooting. "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.”
Several law enforcement agencies across Florida also began offering their condolences and support to the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Department.
Our thoughts and prayers go out to the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office and their citizens over the tragic loss of two deputies. @Columbiasheriff stands ready to assist and any way possible!!!! pic.twitter.com/bjX1bDcrzL
— Columbia Sheriff, FL (@ColumbiaSheriff) April 19, 2018
Another senseless act against law enforcement, please keep the @GCSOFlorida and the families of the fallen officers in your prayers. Something has got to change. #ThinBlueLine #LODD https://t.co/BxW8lLSdgT
— UMassD Police (@UMassDPolice) April 19, 2018
FAU Police Department sends its condolences to the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office and the families of the two deputies who were killed earlier this evening. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. ⚫️💙⚫️ pic.twitter.com/bsszwhUAtJ
— FAU Police (@FAUPD) April 19, 2018
— Stuart Police Dept. (@cityofstuart) April 19, 2018
Law enforcement is an inherently dangerous profession. The men and women of the St. Lucie Sheriff’s Office stand with our brothers and sisters around the state as we mourn the loss of two @GCSOFlorida deputies who were killed today protecting their community.
— St. Lucie Sheriff (@stluciesheriff) April 19, 2018
FPD mourns the loss of two Gilchrist County deputies killed in a shooting today. Our thoughts and prayers go out to their families, friends, and agency. https://t.co/cjJnGUh9f0
— Fellsmere Police (@FellsmerePD) April 19, 2018
— Broward Sheriff (@browardsheriff) April 19, 2018
We are heartbroken to learn that two Gilchrist County Sheriffs Office deputies were killed in the line of duty today. OPD stands in grief with their families and fellow deputies.
— Orlando Police (@OrlandoPolice) April 19, 2018