Residents rocked by tragedy launch #GilchristStrong fundraiser

By Chris Parenteau - Reporter

BELL, Fla. - The morning after two Gilchrist County were ambushed and killed as they ate lunch, a community shaken by tragedy is rallying together.

Two people with ties to the deputies and law enforcement have begun selling T-shirts and will be giving the proceeds to the families of the deputies who were killed.

“It means the world. It’s not going to be a whole lot, but everything helps,” said Jamie Mauldin, who helped come up with the shirt idea. “I can’t even imagine what they’re going through right now. Anything we can do to help them, of course we are going to do it.”

Mauldin works at Akins Bar-B-Q in the heart of Bell, a small community rocked by its own tragedy a few years ago when a man killed his daughter and six grandchildren before killing himself. She wore her new shirt to work and said as soon as she got in, people started asking how they could get one.

“We didn’t think it would take off at all honestly. It was just something we were doing to support,” she said.

The shirt is blue with a thin blue line flag in the shape of the state of Florida with the hashtag #GilchristStrong on the front. On the back, the words, “A hero remembered never really dies."

 

“You don’t think something like that is going to happen in such a small area where we are so close knit. Everybody knows everybody. It’s not supposed to happen here,” Mauldin said.

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Mauldin said Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey often ate at Akins Bar-B-Q, so many there took Thursday’s news very hard.

“Ramirez was the sweetest ever. He loved his family, loved his job, always had a smile. I didn’t know Taylor too well, but anytime he was in here, he was respectful and kind. I just can’t understand it,” she said.

Despite the heavy hearts, the small community will push forward, rallying together for each other to get through another horrific tragedy.

“That’s what we do. We were Gilchrist strong and we are going to be there for each other no matter what, no matter when,” Mauldin said.

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