Sergeant Sammy Gonzalez of the Lee County Sheriff’s Office reached Ruskin around 5 p.m. Friday afternoon. He’s roughly one-fourth of the way in to his 400 mile trek to Tallahassee. He’s expected to reach Tampa sometime Saturday.
His goal is to hand over a $20,000 check, raised by donations, in honor of the C.O.P.S charity, Concerns of Police Survivors, which raises money for the families of fallen law enforcement officers.
The seriousness of the cause, and the journey is made all the more important, by the loss of two Deputies in Gilchrist County Thursday afternoon, just hours after Gonzalez left LCSO’s headquarters.
Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey were eating lunch in Trenton, about 30 miles from Gainesville, when a gunman entered the restaurant and fired upon the officers, killing them both.
The gunman, John Hubert Highnote, was found deceased, but the official report hasn’t been released as cause of death.
“Both our heroes had simply sat down to eat while on duty,” Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz said Thursday night. “There was no crime in progress, no disturbance.”
Ramirez, 30, had been a law enforcement officer for about seven years. He served at two law enforcement agencies before joining the Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Office in 2016. He is survived by his wife and two young children. Lindsey was 25 and had been with the Gilchrist Sheriff’s Office for more than three years.
Both of these losses are dreadful, especially during a time when tensions on high on both sides of the shield. But it also illustrates why Gonzalez’ run means what it does to those in and around law enforcement, that when an officer is killed in the line of duty there are often loves ones left behind, and these efforts can at least start to bring them peace in the face of such tragic loss.
Those interested in following Sgt. Gonzalez on his journey can follow along through the Lee County Sheriff’s Facebook page.
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