• Vigil held for ‘Best of the best:' 2 Florida deputies shot, killed at restaurant

    By: Ken Tyndall , Sarahbeth Ackerman , Michael Lopardi

    Updated:

    GILCHRIST COUNTY, Fla. - A vigil was held Friday night for two fallen deputies with the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office.

    "Tonight is about remembering the heroes. It's about loving the families," said Newberry Mayor Jordan Marlow. "So it is hard to fight off the rage, but tonight is about loving who's here in front of us."

    A man fired through the window of a restaurant and fatally shot two Florida deputies Thursday afternoon, authorities said.

    Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said during a news conference that Sgt. Noel Ramirez, 30, and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, 25, were killed in Trenton.

    Photos: Scene where 2 deputies were fatally shot

    Schultz said the deputies were getting food at the Ace China restaurant when the shooter walked up to the building and fired at them through a window. Fellow deputies responding to the scene found the shooter dead outside the business.

    Schultz said he had nothing to say about the "coward" gunman, who he believes acted alone. He also could not say how the gunman died.

    “The world is full of cowards and the world is full of heroes. We need to highlight those heroes and what they gave,” Schultz said. 

    Read: Communities heartbroken following deaths of 2 Gilchrist deputies

    The Florida Department of Law Enforcement later identified the shooter as John Highnote, 59, of Bell.

    No other details were released about the gunman and a motive remains unclear.

    Schultz described the deputies as "the best of the best." 

    WATCH: Gilchrist County sheriff gets emotional talking about slain deputies

    "They gave their lives so that we could all be safe," Schultz said. “After 26 years of doing this, nothing can prepare you for senseless deaths.” 

    Ramirez leaves behind a wife and children. He had been a law enforcement officer for seven years. 

    Memorial for Gilchrist deputies
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.
    Memorial for Gilchrist deputies
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    Lindsey had worked for the sheriff’s office previously and had just returned to the force. 

    “I knew both of them personally and I can sit here in front of you all and tell you that I loved them,” Schultz said.

    On Friday, memorials began popping up throughout the county. Black and blue ribbons were hung on Main Street and a steady stream of people dropped off flowers at a memorial. 

    Two Gilchrist County deputies were shot and killed while eating at a restaurant, authorities said.
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.
    Two Gilchrist County deputies were shot and killed while eating at a restaurant, authorities said.
    © 2018 Cox Media Group.

    “I think as you get older, you realize just how precious life is and just how short of time we have here on this Earth,” said resident Terri Lee Sullenger. 

    Trenton has a population of about 2,000. The sheriff’s office considers itself a family, with a little more than two dozen deputies. 

    “It’s very, very fresh right now. The outpouring from this community is absolutely huge,” said Lt. Scott Tummond.

    As law enforcement remained at the scene throughout Thursday night to investigate and collect evidence, two deputies in their dress uniforms stood guard holding two folded American flags.

    The investigation has been handed over to the FDLE. 

    Trenton is in northern Florida, about 35 miles west of Gainesville.

    The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Raw: Officials release latest on fatal shooting of 2 deputies