Home of gunman who killed Florida deputies goes up in flames

It's unclear whether the fire started accidentally or was intentionally set

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BELL, Fla. – The secluded home of a Florida man who killed two Gilchrist County Sheriff's deputies in an ambush before taking his own life went up in flames late Thursday, authorities said.

The home is nestled in the rural town of Bell, roughly a 20-minute drive from the Trenton restaurant where John Hubert Highnote killed Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey last month.

All that remained of the residence Friday morning were brick walls, cinder blocks, the scorched shell of Highnote's pickup truck and a blanket of smoldering ash. A nearby tool shed was unscathed.

Firefighters on scene said the fire broke out in the garage about 9 p.m. Thursday. Crews put the flames out before midnight, but crews returned to the home several hours later to mop up some hot spots.

It's unclear whether the fire started by accident or was intentionally set.

Highnote, described by Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz as a recluse, is believed to have lived alone at the home. Neighbors said the 59-year-old kept to himself and was rarely seen going out.

Ramirez, 29, and Lindsey, 25, were eating lunch at Ace China in Trenton April 19 when Highnote walked in and shot them. He was later found dead of an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound.

A motive in the case has not yet been released.

Neighbor Mike Hurst is still reeling from the shooting. Having seen the deputies just before they were killed, he said, it's tough not to play back the moments.

"I saw them about five minutes, maybe 10 minutes, before it happened. That's why it was so alarming to me. I came back out down the road there and I'm going like, 'What could've happened here?'" he said.

Two weeks later, he finds himself asking that question once more. This time, however, he's wondering what happened to the home where the deputies' killer lived. He's not sure whether the fire is a coincidence or not.

"Probably nobody wants that memory around," he said.

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