Thousands gather in Gilchrist County to say goodbye to fallen deputies


One of Florida's smallest counties showed the size of its heart Tuesday as it said goodbye to two of its deputies killed in the line of duty.

Thousands of officers from across the country joined Gilchrist County residents to lay to rest Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Deputy Taylor Lindsey, two deputies ambushed and killed while eating at a restaurant in the tiny hamlet of Trenton.

Whether it was a salute, a hand over the heart, or waving the flag, each man woman and child lining the streets paid tribute in their own way as hundreds of police cars passed.

"You know it was tragic around here, and people were just stunned with what happened," said Michael Wilkerson, who's lived in Trenton his entire life. "We don’t know why, but in a little town like this you don’t expect something like this”

Wilkerson, a third generation farmer at Wilkerson Farms, stopped production Tuesday and brought his entire team - and his farming equipment - to the procession.

“Yeah, we wanted to show support, and we put the blue tape in there for the deputies and the police department,“ Wilkerson said.

He said every time they ever needed an escort to move machinery from one farm to the next it was always Lindsey who came out to help them.

"Every time, Taylor came out,” Wilkerson said. “I would describe him as good person, kind of a laid back person and would understand what you do, and where you come from.”

He said it was an honor to know him.

"They have always been 100% for us,” Wilkerson said.

And today, they say they're now 100 percent for him.

"He makes us go ahead and keep it all going."

Miles away in Bell, Sheriff Bobby Schultz told a full auditorium that Ramirez and Lindsey were so dedicated to the department that they both, on separate occasions, offered to help recruit more people to the department. It was a family, he said.

Schultz has said time and again that when officers wake up in the morning, strap on a gun and pin their badge, they know their lives are in danger. But, he said, it's their calling to serve.

“We will refuse to apologize for doing our job that God has called us to do," he said. "And we are going to continue honoring these men by doing our job to the best of our ability.”

Speakers, who included Gov. Rick Scott, told the crowd it's not a goodbye, but a 'See you later.'

“Remember, because at the end of the day guys, we’re family, we’re family," Schultz said.

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