Sergeant Noel Ramerez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were shot without warning at a Chinese restaurant
Credit: Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office

Two Florida sheriff’s deputies were killed on Thursday afternoon when a gunman ambushed them as they ate their lunch.

Sergeant Noel Ramerez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey had just gotten their food at Ace China restaurant in the small town of Trenton, Florida — about 30 miles west of Gainesville. A man, later identified as 59-year-old John Hubert Highnote, approached the window of the restaurant and opened fire.

According to the Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz, Highnote “shot both men without warning.”

“Both our heroes had simply sat down to eat while on duty,” Bobby Schultz wrote in a statement on Facebook. “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,” Schultz said. “Two holes in the window are visible tonight.”

When authorities responded to the scene, they found Highnote dead of a self-inflicted gunshot wound outside. Authorities don’t know the motive for the shooting. “The Florida Department of Law Enforcement is conducting the active, ongoing criminal investigation,” wrote Schultz.

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The sudden violence has left a community mourning the two officers who were at the beginning of their careers. Schultz said Lindsey, 25, was a 3-year veteran of the force. He and his girlfriend had just started to get serious and were talking about a future together. Ramirez, 30, had been an officer for nearly seven years, Schultz said. He was married with two young children.

In a Thursday press conference, a visibly shaken Schultz told reporters that he was refraining saying everything he wanted to say. “But I will say this,” he said, according to CNN. “We’re not going to make this a political issue. Other than the fact, what do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent that it’s been demonized? Every type of hate, every type of putdown that you can think of.”

“The only thing these men were guilty of was wanting to protect you and me,” he said. “They were the best of the best. I can tell you that I loved them.”