TRENTON, Fla. – There is still no known motive behind the action of the man who gunned down two Gilchrist County deputies having lunch Thursday in Trenton, Florida, officials with Alachua and Levy counties said Friday morning.
The shooter, identified by authorities as John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell, had no known history with the Sheriff's Office, said Lt. Scott Tummond, a Levy County public information officer who is helping Gilchrist County.
Authorities originally believed that Highnote walked up to the China Ace restaurant at 3 p.m. and shot the two deputies, who were on duty. Tummond said Friday that they now know he walked into the restaurant and fired the fatal shots. There is no evidence that either deputy was able to return fire, he said.
"These two heroes walked in to have a meal together and were ambushed," Tummond said.
After shooting the deputies, Highnote walked outside and was found dead in the parking lot, officials said.
The bodies of Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, were removed from the building on State Road 26 at 1 a.m.,Tummond said.
Two American flags were placed in front of the Chinese restaurant, and a makeshift memorial was formed on Friday. A Gilchrist County fireman was seen placing flowers below the windows of the brick building.
Businesses owners around Gilchrist County had put out signs showing support for the Sheriff's Office.
A benefit account was setup for Ramirez and Lindsey's families at Drummond Community Bank. Donations can be made at any of their branches, according to the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi said Saturday that Ramirez leaves behind a 5-year-old son and 3-year-old daughter. She tweeted a link to a GoFundMe account set up to help support them through the tragedy.
2 heroes w/the Gilchrist Co. Sheriffs Office were slain while sitting in a restaurant having lunch. Sgt Noel Ramirez leaves behind 2 children - a 5-yr-old son & a 3-yr-old daughter. This @gofundme sets up a fund for these little angels. Please share. https://t.co/6QfzzR41uV— Fla. AG Pam Bondi (@AGPamBondi) April 21, 2018
Trenton is about 2.5 hours northwest of Orlando and 35 miles west of Gainesville. Its Sheriff's Office has 30 deputies, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.
Ramirez and Lindsey were the first deputies killed in the line of duty in Gilchrist County since Sheriff Mark Read in 1956.
Deputies from the neighboring Alachua County Sheriff's Office are answering calls for service in Gilchrist County to allow the local office time for healing. The Levy County Sheriff's Office is also assisting.
Spokesmen for the sheriff's offices in Levy and Alachua counties provided an update Friday and said that while they continue to investigate a motive behind the shooting they "have no idea what drove this man to this cowardly act."
"Whatever those facts determine, we will never find a reason for what happened to Noel and Taylor," Alachua County public information officer Sgt. Brett Rhodenizer said.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz will spend the rest of Friday with his family, officials said.
After the shooting, Schultz said that there is hatred in the U.S. for law enforcement right now.
Schultz said law enforcement has been "demonized" by "every type of hate," and all his deputies were guilty of was "wanting to protect you and me. Levy and Alachua county authorities echoed those statements less than 24 hours after the shooting.
Asked how this attack would change how they continue to work as law enforcement officers it hadn't crossed Rhodenizer’s mind.
"I haven't had time to think about that. I'm just going to keep working," Rhodenizer said.