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A community will gather to mourn on Friday, Feb. 16, at a funeral service for two Westerville Division of Police officers who were killed in a shootout after responding to a domestic violence situation Feb. 10.

Officers Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, were shot and died of their wounds. Westerville resident Quentin L. Smith, 30, was wounded in the exchange, and charged with two counts of aggravated murder the next day.

The incident began just before noon, when police dispatchers received a hang-up 911 call. After a few seconds, the line went dead, and police dispatchers attempted to contact the caller.

When they reached the caller, a woman who was crying said she was scared. The woman was later identified as Smith's wife, Candace Smith, according to police reports.

Joering and Morelli were dispatched to the residence of the Smiths in the 300 block of Cross Wind Drive, where police previously had responded to several calls, including multiple domestic violence calls within the past year, according to reports.

According to police Chief Joseph Morbitzer, the officers were met "immediately" with gunfire as they made contact with an occupant of the apartment later identified as Smith.

In a 911 call immediately following the shooting, Candace Smith told police she was hiding in the bushes outside of the apartment while her 1-year-old daughter was still inside.

Eventually, police secured both Candace Smith and her daughter.

Medics were called to the scene to treat Joering and Morelli. Joering was pronounced dead at the scene, while Morelli was rushed to Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. He died that afternoon at the hospital.

In an emotional press conference the afternoon of Feb. 10, Morbitzer called Joering and Morelli "two of the best we have."

"This was their calling, and they did it right," he said. "They knew how to do policing the right way. Both gave their life to protect others."

Smtih also was taken to a hospital. By the afternoon of Feb. 11 he was "expected to survive his wounds," according to a city press release. As of Feb. 13, Westerville had not released information on where he was being treated.


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According to court records, Smith previously had been charged with felonious assault, domestic violence, theft, aggravated menacing and aggravated burglary, and spent time in prison.

Many of those previous charges were filed in Cuyahoga County, Smith's previous residence.

Westerville officials announced Feb. 11 Smith officially had been charged with two counts of aggravated murder through the Franklin County Municipal Court.

Within hours of the shooting, Westerville began receiving messages of support from around the country.

Vehicles from other central Ohio departments could be seen at the Westerville police station, while messages from departments across the country poured in through social media.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich released a statement Feb. 11 on the "terrible tragedy" and pledged support from the Ohio State Highway Patrol.

President Donald Trump took to Twitter to offer his "thoughts and prayers" for the officers. Later, he would tweet that he spoke to Kasich to "express condolences and prayers."

Flags at First Responders Park in Hilliard were lowered to half-staff in salute to the two officers.

A handful of Hilliard Division of Police officers volunteered to work in Westerville on Feb. 11, responding to calls so Westerville officers could grieve.

"I want to thank all the agencies who have helped us out and supported us here at the police department in this investigation," Morbitzer said. "We've received condolences and pledges of support from all over the United States."

Multiple vigils were held in honor of the officers. On Feb. 12, Westerville North High School and Heritage Christian Church each held events.

On the morning of Feb. 11, a large crowd lined South State Street as Westerville officers and those from Columbus and several other divisions escorted the bodies of Joering and Morelli from the Franklin County Coroner's Office to Hill Funeral Home, 220 S. State St., and Moreland Funeral Home, 55 E. Schrock Road, respectively.

A public visitation for both officers will be held from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at St. Paul Catholic Church, 313 N. State St., Westerville, followed by services at 1 p.m. at the church.

In the hours following the officers' deaths, the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 in Columbus set up a fundraiser on crowdfunding site GoFundMe in an attempt to raise money toward the officers' medical bills and funeral expenses, along with any other funding their families needed.

Originally, the page was aiming to raise $50,000 in donations.

By the afternoon of Feb. 13, the page had already raised more than $375,000, with its goal pushed to $400,000.

Online donations can be made at CME Credit Union in Westerville also is accepting donations toward the families.

Westerville spokeswoman Christa Dickey warned those interested in donating to avoid fake fundraisers by donating only to those two sources.

In the aftermath, the Westerville Division of Police is left with a large void as it mourns two longtime officers. According to Dickey, Joering had served with the division for 16 years and Morelli for 29.

Through tears, Morbitzer said the two officers who "literally dedicated their lives" to their work will be impossible to replace.

"We will miss both of these officers because they were pillars of our department," he said. "They were the ones people went to. They served in so many different capacities for us, and were always willing to go above and beyond."

ThisWeek reporter Kevin Corvo contributed to this report.


.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; } Public-address announcer Rick Bannister leads a tribute for Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering, who were fatally shot Feb. 10, before Westerville North's boys basketball team played host to Whitehall on Feb.12. Frank DiRenna/ThisWeek