Gunman had 'intent to kill' the day he shot 2 Florida deputies, sheriff says
The man who killed two deputies last week in a Florida restaurant left his home the day of the shooting intending to kill people, the Gilchrist County sheriff said Friday.Posted — Updated
Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were eating at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton, police said, when a gunman -- whom authorities identified as John Hubert Highnote -- walked up and opened fire. Both officers were in uniform and armed at the time they were killed.
Authorities have not established a motive for the killings, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said Friday morning at a press conference.
"What we do know is that he left his home on Thursday, April 19, 2018, with the ability and apparent intent to kill people," Schultz said. "He was armed with two rifles, a handgun and ample ammunition for each weapon."
Schultz said that "the few people who knew" Highnote described him as "a recluse and a loner." His neighbors had not seen him and couldn't even describe him, Schultz said. Highnote, 59, of Bell, Florida, lived such a solitary existence that authorities have been able to find only one picture of him -- his driver's license photograph.
Before the shooting, the sheriff said, Highnote went to a former employer's office. Investigators don't know why Highnote went there, but as employees approached him, he fled "as cowards like him often do," Schultz said.
Authorities said Highnote then went to the Chinese restaurant, where he killed Ramirez and Lindsey, before going out to his car in the parking lot and shooting and killing himself.
Investigators have uncovered just a few contacts Highnote had with law enforcement over four decades, Schultz said, most of which were over traffic violations.
"These incidents were so widely spaced by time, distance and apparent relevance, that no connections or indications of future violence like this were identified, nor could they have been linked together," Schultz said.
"The violence he perpetrated on Noel and Taylor can never be explained. They were simply assassinated while having a meal."
'Law enforcement's mad'
At the Friday press conference, Schultz placed his prepared remarks aside and looked at the reporters gathered around him.
"That's my prepared statement," he said. "Now you're going to hear from Bobby Schultz.
"I'm mad," he said. "Gilchrist County's mad. Law enforcement's mad."
Schultz said America was tired of seeing officers such as Ramirez and Lindsey shot dead while carrying out their duties.
Last week, Schultz described the deputies as men of integrity and loyalty, calling them "the best of the best."
Ramirez, 30, had been a law enforcement officer for about seven years. He served at two law enforcement agencies before joining the Gilchrist County Sheriff's Office in 2016.
He is survived by his wife and two young children, officials said.
Lindsey was 25 and had been with the Gilchrist Sheriff's Office for more than three years.
Funeral services for the deputies were held earlier this week in Bronson, Florida.
"Two of America's -- not Gilchrist County, not the state of Florida -- but America's finest cops gave their all. That's what they did," Schultz said Friday. "That's what they need to be remembered for."
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