The Delaware County community continues to express its condolences to the City of Westerville — part of which lies within the county — following the deaths of two police officers on Saturday.
According to a City of Westerville press release, Officer Anthony Morelli, 54, and Officer Eric Joering, 39, were both killed in the line of duty while responding to a 911 hang-up call around noon on Saturday.
The press release states Morelli (29-year veteran of the Westerville Division of Police) and Joering (16-year veteran of the department) were fired upon during their arrival at an address on Crosswind Dr. from where the 911 call originated.
The suspect, Quentin Smith, 30, was wounded and transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.
On Sunday, the Westerville Division of Police tweeted, “We are grateful and humbled by the support we have received from our community, our law enforcement partners, and people across the US. Our hearts are broken. Thank you for continuing to keep our officer’s families in your prayers.”
For those in the Delaware County community wishing to make monetary donations to the families of the fallen officers, Westerville Community Affairs Director Christa Dickey is cautioning everyone to be on the lookout for fake GoFundMe accounts set up in the names of officers Joering and Morelli.
“There is a real GoFundMe account being managed by the FOP (Fraternal Order of Police Lodge No. 9),” she said. “CME Credit Union in Westerville will also accept donations and route those to the families.”
Officials offer condolences
On Saturday, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners issued a statement expressing its sorrow for the slain officers and support for everyone impacted by the tragedy in Franklin County.
“My thoughts, prayers, and those of my fellow commissioners, county employees, and all residents of the county are with the families of these brave officers and all members of the Westerville Police Department,” said Commissioner Gary Merrell, president of this year’s board. “Tragedies such as this remind us how much we ask of those in law enforcement and those who are first responders and the sacrifices they willingly give to protect each of us in our county, in our state and in our country.”
Delaware Mayor Carolyn Kay Riggle and Delaware City Council issued the following statement on the city’s official Facebook page: “On behalf of our city, we extend our thoughts and prayers to the families of the slain Westerville police officers. … We stand with the Westerville PD.”
Local law enforcement agencies also expressed their condolences and support over the weekend.
“Our hearts are broken with the news of two Westerville officers fatally shot in the line of duty earlier today,” the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office posted Saturday on its Facebook page. “Members of the Westerville Police Department and the Westerville Community, you are in our thoughts and prayers. May you all feel the love and support from our Thin Blue Line Family.”
The Delaware Police Department posted on its Facebook page that it “mourns the loss of our brother officers at the Westerville P.D. Please keep the Westerville Police Dept., their fallen officers and their families in your prayers.”
On Sunday, Delaware County Prosecutor Carol O’Brien wrote on her office’s Facebook page that “every law enforcement office’s worst nightmare happened yesterday.”
O’Brien’s post goes on to state, “The members of my staff and I had the privilege and honor of working with both Officer Joering and Officer Morelli. While the loss to the law enforcement community is great, the loss to their families is immeasurable.
“Please keep the family of these officers in your thoughts and prayers and please, the next time you see a police officer, offer them a word of thanks for always putting their lives on the line to protect us.”