Florida Deputies Shot Through Restaurant Window; Sheriff Blames Hate
Authorities say two Florida sheriff's deputies were shot dead through the window of a Chinese restaurant by a man who then killed himself.
The shooter was identified as a man from a small town just up the road from the restaurant, and his motive wasn't immediately known, but the sheriff blamed Thursday's killings on hatred toward law enforcement.
"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," Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said at a news conference.
This shooter was a "coward," the sheriff said.
"The only thing these men were guilty of is wanting to protect you and me. They just wanted to get something to eat, and they just wanted to do their job," he said.
President Donald Trump called the slain deputies "HEROES" in a tweet sharing his condolences with their friends, families and colleagues.
Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, were killed while getting food at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton, about 35 miles (56 kilometers) west of Gainesville.
The shooter, found dead in a car outside, was identified as John Hubert Highnote, 58, of Bell, a small town just up the road.
"It appears he just walked up and shot them, then went to his car and shot himself. It's inexplicable," State Attorney Bill Cervone said. "People will want to know why, and we may never have an answer for them."
Schultz said state law enforcement officials are investigating.
"Sgt. Ramirez and Deputy Lindsey were the best of the best," Schultz said. "They were men of integrity, men of loyalty. They were God-fearing, and they loved what they did, and we are very proud of them."
Ramirez was a 7-year veteran of law enforcement who had a wife and two young children. Lindsey had worked with the force for a total of more than three years; he had recently returned to working at the sheriff's office.
Schultz said he rushed to the scene, and then had the difficult task of calling the families of Ramirez, who is survived by his wife and two young children, and Lindsey, who joined the sheriff's office in 2013.
The department has received numerous condolences and messages of support, including from President Trump, who said, "My thoughts, prayers and condolences are with the families, friends and colleagues" of the slain deputies.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said, "My wife, Ann, and I are heartbroken by the loss of two law enforcement officers in Trenton," adding that he has committed state resources to help the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office.
Scott added, "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."
Reports from NPR were used in this story.