Trenton, FL – Two Gilchrist County sheriff’s deputies were murdered as shared a meal in a Chinese restaurant in Trenton on Thursday afternoon.
Police said that Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Sergeant Noel Ramirez and Gilchrist County Deputy Sheriff Taylor Lindsey were eating lunch at about 3 p.m. on April 19.
It was initially reported that the suspect shot the deputies through the restaurant window, but investigators now say that John Hubert Highnote walked into the Ace China restaurant and fatally shot both deputies from inside, CNN reported.
Both deputies died at the scene, police said.
After he murdered the deputies in cold blood, Highnote returned to his vehicle where police believe he shot himself, authorities said.
Police have not found a motive for the senseless murders, but Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz blamed the anti-police hatred that has raged across the United States.
"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," Sheriff Schultz asked at a press conference on Thursday.
Florida State’s Attorney Bill Cervone said that we may never know the motive.
"It appears he just walked up and shot them, then went to his car and shot himself. It's inexplicable," Cervone said. "People will want to know why, and we may never have an answer for them."
Highnote, 59, was a resident of nearby Bell in Gilchrist County, who police said at Friday’s press conference had not had any prior interaction with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office. He lived about 10 miles from the Ace China restaurant, The New York Times reported.
His only offense in the Gilchrist County records was a traffic ticket for an improper turn in 2012, Heavy reported.
Trenton, the seat of rural Gilchrist County, is located about two hours southwest of Jacksonville, according to FOX News.
The sheriff described Sgt. Ramirez and Deputy Lindsey as “the best of the best."
"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,” he said.
"They don't need to be remembered strictly for their untimely death but they need to be remembered for the type of people that they are. And that's good individuals, good deputy sheriffs,” the sheriff said.
Sheriff Schultz called Highnote a "coward," and 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.”
The sheriff said he knew both men personally and that he “loved them.”
Florida Governor Rick Scott and Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi issued statements of condolence to Gilchrist County. President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences about the deputies.
Sgt. Ramirez, 29, had been with the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office for seven years, and was survived by a wife and two small children.
Deputy Lindsey, 25, was a two-year veteran of the sheriff’s department. He was unmarried but had a girlfriend, according to The New York Times.
“We haven’t been through anything quite like this before, but what makes our county unique is that we’re a family,” Sheriff Shultz said during the Thursday press conference. “We’re going to grieve. We’re going to get upset. We’re probably going to cuss a little bit. But at the end of the day, we’re going to remember those two men for who they are. They’re heroes.”