Chief Joe Morbitzer of the city of Westerville, Ohio, sadly reports the deaths of Officer Eric Joering and Officer Anthony Morelli.
Both Officers Joering, 39, and Morelli, 54, were shot as they entered an apartment in which a 911 hang up call had originated. Commonly, these types of calls are the result of a domestic violence complaint where the victim is unable to convey information to the 911 dispatcher. In this instance, it is possible that the 911 hang up call was made to police dispatch to draw officers into an ambush scenario.
It has been reported that Joering died at the scene of the shooting while Morelli was transported to Ohio State University Medical Center where he died during surgery.
It is with a heavy heart we report a second Westerville officer has been killed in the line of duty. We will share more details here as it becomes available.
— City of Westerville (@tellwesterville) February 10, 2018
The suspect in the shooting has also been shot and he was transported to a local hospital for medical treatment. His condition is unknown.
Holding back tears, Morbitzer described the veteran officers as “true American heroes” and “pillars in our department.”
“These officers were two of the best we had,” he said. “This was their calling and they did it right. They knew how to do policing the right way — both of them. … Both officers gave their lives in the protection of others.” He asked that people keep the families of the officers in their prayers.
“I’m confident our staff will take them under their wings,” he said.
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill called the shooting an ambush, reported Daily News.
“[email protected] confirms 2 officers ambushed & killed today after responding to a 911 hang-up; fired upon when they arrived at the address. Everyone should be as upset about this as America’s law enforcement officers are. No cop, anywhere, ‘signed up’ to be murdered,” he wrote.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 10, 2018
Westerville is where Ohio Gov. John Kasich resides. In a tweet, the governor called the officers’ deaths “a terrible tragedy.”
“The finest among us are those who risk it all everyday for our safety, and Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering were those people,” Kasich said. “Their deaths are a terreible tragedy for my hometown of Westerville and all of Ohio. … We extend our prayers and deep condolences to their families and fellow officers.”
Sen. Kevin Bacon, R-Minerva Park, issued a statement offering condolences to the officers’ families, according to CBS.
“Our hearts and prayers are with the Westerville officers, their friends, families and the Westerville Police Department at this difficult time,” Bacon said. “Now is one of those times and we — as a community — must rally behind the families and fellow officers.”
The Columbus Police Department is conducting the investigation into the deaths with the assistance of the Ohio Highway Patrol.
Eric Joering served the Westerville Police Department for 16 years. Anthony Morelli served the Westerville Police Department for 30 years.
Officer Eric Joering and Officer Anthony Morelli are gone, but will never be forgotten.
EOW: Saturday, February 10, 2018.