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Sheriff: Man who 'assassinated' deputies armed with 2 rifles, handgun

Killer visited business he used to work at on same day he shot deputies

ALACHUA, Fla. – Days after an emotional memorial for two of his deputies, Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz stood before members of the media and provided a brief description of the man he said assassinated Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey as they ate at a restaurant.

Schultz said John Hubert Highnote, 59, was an overweight, balding white man with a white beard who was so much of a recluse and a loner that his own neighbors couldn't describe him.

Investigators have learned that Highnote, who took his own life after killing the deputies, left his home April 19 armed with two rifles, a handgun and ample ammunition. They also said the Chinese restaurant where he ambushed Ramirez, 29, and Lindsey, 25, wasn't his only stop that day.

WATCH: Sheriff's news conference on investigation
READ: Sheriff Schultz's statement on investigation

On the same day he walked into the Ace China restaurant in Trenton and gunned down the two deputies without warning, Highnote visited a business in Newberry where he had worked more than two years ago, Schultz said. The sheriff declined to name the business.

Investigators said that when employees who recognized Highnote tried to approach him to find out why he was there, he ran off.

"He did what cowards do," Alachua County Sgt. Brett Rhodenizer said. "We don't know -- did we escape disaster right there?"

Some time after Highnote left that business, he fatally shot Ramirez and Lindsey as they ate together in uniform.

Map showing where John Highnote went on April 19.

Highnote then returned to his truck, which was in a parking lot around the corner, and took his own life.

“The violence he perpetrated on Noel and Taylor can never be explained," Schultz said. "They were simply assassinated while having a meal."

Schultz said the only photo law enforcement have found of Highnote is his driver's license picture, which is not public record. His only interactions with law enforcement before last Thursday involved traffic tickets spread around the state over the course of four decades and a gun charge in 1978. 

Highnote had no social media or online presence that might help unmask him and reveal a motive in the ambush shooting, Schultz said.

“Whatever we ultimately learn, no motive could ever be enough for the families of Noel and Taylor," Schultz said.

Ramirez and Lindsey were laid to rest with full honors Tuesday as hundreds of law enforcement vehicles from around the state joined a 15-mile long procession, one of the longest in Florida history, from the memorial at a local high school to the graveside service.

An emotional Schultz described his deputies as “fun-loving, God-fearing, good, good men” during the service, which was attended by Florida Gov. Rick Scott.

Highnote's body has not yet been claimed from the medical examiner.

“This individual is, for all intents and purposes, invisible prior to April 19," Rhodenizer said of Highnote. “He was no one before April 19, and that's where he belongs.”


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