GILCHRIST COUNTY - The young son of a Gilchrist County deputy who was killed in the line of duty this spring started his school year Friday morning without his dad by his side.
But Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz and his staff did what they could to fill in the gap.
More than a dozen deputies lined up and gave little Noel Ramirez III a hero's welcome to his first day at Chiefland Elementary School.
Schultz helped walk Noel into school as the deputies and others gave the boy a standing ovation.
Noel's father, Sgt. Noel Ramirez Jr., was gunned down with another deputy in April while the two were eating at a Trenton restaurant. At the time, Schultz called it an assassination. The gunman took his own life.
Ramirez's colleagues promised after his death to look after his family and honor his legacy.
In a Facebook post Friday, the Sheriff's Office said: “RIP Sgt Ramirez, knowing GCSO had your son's back, and we will be there to help out any way we can in the days to come.”
The post urged the community to remember Ramirez's children and the other children of law enforcement officers who will be missing a parent on their first day of school.
The Sheriff's Office thanked all those who volunteered Friday to show their support for Ramirez's family.
“Our hope is that some day when he is older, (Noel) will look back on this day with fond memories and realize the love and respect we all feel for his dad,” the Facebook post said.
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