Westerville, Ohio, Police Chief Calls Slain Officers "True American Heroes"

Lawrence Kim
February 18, 2018

The families of two OH police officers fatally shot while responding to a 911 hang-up call say they're grateful for their community and for the outpouring of support shown in the midst of their loss.

Lt. Kristopher Shultz of the sheriff's office said even though no staff from their division knew the officers personally, they were aware of the impact their deaths had here in Springfield.

39-year-old Eric Joering and 54-year-old Anthony Morelli were shot and killed Saturday while responding to a 911 hang-up call at a townhome.

Westerville, on the northeast side of Columbus, is a suburb with about 39,000 residents. Police had previously been called to the home where 30-year-old Quentin Smith is alleged to have ambushed the two officers.

Four minutes later, someone, presumably a police officer, tells a dispatcher: "We have two officers down".

Joering and Morelli were responding to a 911 call that police received at 12:02 p.m., officials said.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that Smith was shot during his encounter with police and was being treated for his injuries.

Contacts with Columbus Police Department tell NBC 4 Investigator Tom Sussi that Quentin Smith is on lock-down. He could be indicted on formal charges including the possibility of a death sentence because the victims were police officers killed in the line of duty, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O'Brien.

Westerville police had gone to Smith's townhome where he lived with his wife, Candace, for domestic disputes three times since September, and neighbors said they frequently fought. He has been charged with aggravated murder.

Municipal court records didn't show an attorney for Smith.

A man accused of providing Smith with a gun also was arrested.

Smith, a convicted felon, was barred from buying or a possessing a gun, so he gave Lawson the money to get one, plus $100 for his trouble, the statement said.

Lawson, of Warrensville Hts., is charged with providing Smith with the weapon.

As Chief Morbitzer so aptly stated, Joering and Morelli were "true American heroes" who died responding to the frantic call for help from a woman in distress.

Police say a suspect is in custody but provided no other details.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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