Two sheriff's deputies in Florida were killed in an apparent ambush Thursday after a shooter opened fire through the window of a local restaurant, authorities said.
The two Gilchrist County deputies were eating at the Ace China restaurant in Trenton — about 30 miles west of Gainesville — when the shooter opened fire, Sheriff Bobby Schultz said at a news conference Friday. When additional deputies arrived on the scene, the shooter was found dead from a gunshot wound outside the restaurant.
Schultz identified the slain deputies as Noel Ramirez, 29, and Taylor Lindsay, 25.
The shooter is believed to be John Hubert Highnote, 59, of Bell, Florida, according to a statement from the sheriff's department. No crime was in progress at the time when Highnote "appears to have walked to the front of the business and shot both men without warning," the statement said.
Authorities offered no information Thursday on what prompted the shooting. But Schultz did repeatedly criticize what he described as the demonization of law enforcement.
"We’re not going to make this a political issue, other than the fact — what do you expect happens when you demonize law enforcement to the extent that it’s been demonized," Schultz said. "Every type of hate, every type of put-down you can think of."
Schultz also repeatedly referred to the shooter as a "coward." He described the two deputies as "the best of the best."
"They were men of integrity," he added. "They were men of loyalty. They were God-fearing and they loved what they did. And we're proud of them."
Shortly after the shooting, Walton County Sheriff Michael Adkinson, who leads the Florida Sheriff's Association, said in a statement that the deputies were "ambushed and murdered," and called the incident "tragic."
President Trump, in a tweet, called the deputies "HEROES" and said his thoughts and prayers were with their families.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott said he was "heartbroken" by the shooting.
"It is true evil for anyone to hurt a law enforcement officer, and in Florida, we have zero tolerance for violence, especially against the police," Scott added.
Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi also expressed her condolences.
"My heart breaks with the tragic news of two Gilchrist County deputies that were senselessly killed today while in the line of duty," she said in a statement.