Two Ohio police officers responding to a potential domestic dispute were shot and killed this weekend, according to authorities.
Officers Anthony Morelli, 54, and Eric Joering, 39, responded to a 911 hang-up call Saturday morning for a potential domestic situation, according to a press conference held by Westerville Police Department Chief Joe Morbitzer, Sunday morning. Morbitzer said that the officers were “immediately met with gunfire” while at the scene.
Both officers were shot, Morbitzer said, with Joering dying on the scene while Morelli was taken to a local hospital, where he later died during surgery.
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“The officers gave their lives in defense of others,” Morbitzer said, holding back tears. He called the officers “true American heroes.”
Morelli had been with Westerville police for 29 years, while Joering had been with the department for 16 years, Morbitzer said.
The suspect, Quentin L. Smith, was wounded and taken to a hospital, where his condition remains unknown, Christa Dickey, a Westerville spokesperson told the New York Times. According to the Associated Press, previous incident reports showed police had been to Smith’s home or dealt with him several times since 2017.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the Westerville officers, their friends, families and the Westerville Police Department at this difficult time,” Senator Kevin Bacon said in a statement, according to CBS. “Now is one of those times and we — as a community — must rally behind the families and fellow officers.”
Funeral arrangements are being made with the victims’ families, Morbitzer said. A GoFundMe page has been set up for the officer’s families.
President Donald Trump tweeted his condolences, writing, “My thoughts and prayers are with the two police officers, their families, and everybody at @WestervillePD.”