Funerals held Tuesday for fallen Gilchrist deputies
GILCHRIST COUNTY, Fla. (FOX 35 WOFL) - A public viewing and funeral service was held on Tuesday for two Florida sheriff's deputies who were gunned down while they sat in a Chinese restaurant.
Classes were canceled for the day in the town of Bell, as the middle and high schools were used to host family and friends of the two slain deputies, Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey.
Authorities say 58-year-old John Hubert Highnote shot the men on Thursday at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton. He then went to his car and killed himself, according to investigators.
“For them serving as an LEO wasn’t a job, it was a calling," said the department’s chaplain to a standing room only crowd. "Lord, give us more men and women like that.”
Law enforcement officers from across the state and country packed the campus, paying their respects for the two deputies. Florida Governor Rick Scott spoke to the victim’s families, as a father.
“I have children about the same age and I can’t imagine not having the opportunity to never talk to them again. My heart goes out to you,” Gov. Scott said from the podium.
Tommy Cook is a friend of Deputy Lindsey’s dad. He hasn’t seen the family in years, but he said he felt compelled to attend the services.
“My son is a deputy sheriff in Alachua County. It’s just a sad day. I think it’s important we show law enforcement they have a lot of support, and of course the families,” said Cook.
That’s why many government services across Gilchrist County were shut down for the day.
“We lost two brothers. Just because one person showed negativity, this person doesn’t speak for 99 percent of the rest of us. We love our law enforcement,” said Brian Parker, ride captain for the Patriot Guard Riders.
The afternoon ended at Bronson Cemetery, with a graveside 21-gun salute for the two deputies, a heroes send-off from the community they protected.
Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz has blamed the deaths on hatred toward law enforcement.
State Attorney Bill Cervone added "we may never have an answer." A vigil was held for the two officers over the weekend.