By Susan K. Lamb
The annual salute to the military, law enforcement and first responders during the annual Suwannee River Jam at The Spirit of the Suwannee Music Park in Live Oak, on May 5 was extremely moving in many different ways. This year serving one’s citizens took on new meaning locally after Gilchrist County Sheriff’s Deputies Sgt. Noel Ramirez and Taylor Lindsey were shot to death just days before the 2018 Suwannee River Jam. These young deputies were on duty eating in a restaurant in Trenton when their lives were taken. Reports indicate they were shot and killed without the chance to draw their weapons and defend themselves. No motive has been found as yet. The man believed to be the shooter was found dead and believed to have taken his own life. A huge painting of the two young officers had a place of honor on the stage during the Jam ceremony with an honor guard on each side.
For this timely event, Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John wrote a song about law enforcement and the dangers they face today in America. When it was sung by Karley Scott Collins, the crowd cheered, clapped and screamed its approval.
Suwannee County Sheriff Sam St. John was the main speaker. Joining Sheriff St. John on stage were law enforcement officers from the Live Oak Police, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, Suwannee and Lafayette County deputies. Lafayette County Sheriff Brian Lamb also joined Sheriff St. John on stage for the entire ceremony. Both Sheriffs were among the first sheriffs to arrive in Trenton the day of the shootings to assist Gilchrist County Sheriff Bobby Schultz and his department.
Sheriff St. John’s song message centered on protecting the “Team in Green.” He introduced the song, written in memory of the two fallen Gilchrist County officers and sung by Collins, a Lake City singer and songwriter/musician who performs at the Spirit of the Suwannee often. Collins was a prime partner in making what was to be part of Sheriff St. John’s speech into a dynamic song regarding the price law enforcement officers across America are paying. In a later interview, Sheriff St. John had more to say about the song and why he was inspired to write it. Sheriff St. John said he went to Trenton the day the officers were killed. “I went down to be with Sheriff Schultz, what I wanted to do was stand behind him while he talked with the media, while he talked about what had taken place, and it just touched my heart. I felt we had to do something to turn this around.” Sheriff St. John later wrote the song in memory and honor of the fallen Gilchrist County officers. “One thing that touched me was what Sheriff Schultz said about demonizing law enforcement. I knew I was participating in this event at the Spirit of the Suwannee, and I wanted to write something that would ask people to back us, be with us, you know,” he continued. “As I got to writing, we put in about the two officers in Trenton and came up with the idea of a country song for the Suwannee River Jam!” The sheriff got with the Steve Briscoe of Spirit of the Suwannee and ran the idea by him and Briscoe suggested bringing Collins into the plan. “My speech was to raise awareness of law enforcement where every department is different, some don’t have enough money to fund things like communication,” the sheriff lamented. “The words just kind of flowed from my heart about the trials and tribulations law enforcement faces every day. It’s like a feeding frenzy some days.”
“It has got to stop,” Sheriff St. John stated. “I just felt so sorry for Bobby when he was making the speech about his guys shot for no reason. We need to let people know law enforcement is not bad, but human, and we want to work with everybody. This song was written to touch everybody,” Sheriff St. John said. He again stressed that the killing of law enforcement officers has got to stop.
The touching words to the song expressed how difficult it is now in law enforcement as so many have been killed in the line of duty. “There’s a storm a brewin, seems things are getting out of hand, Instead of fightin for our freedom, we’re fightin our fellow man, It’s hard in small town America to realize the American Dream, But there’s a new day a dawning…Let’s protect our Team in Green.” The song goes on to talk about the two Gilchrist County officers as they fought for truth and justice. The full song and salute can be seen and heard in a video filmed by the SOSMP during this tribute which is on YouTube at https://youtu.be/a-v-p2vvAl8.
(The original press release was edited due to space.)
Sheriff St. John of Suwannee County writes song inspired by Gilchrist’s Fallen Officers
By Susan K. Lamb