WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH/AP) – The Westerville Division of Police confirms two officers have been shot and killed Saturday afternoon, and a suspect is in custody.
Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said officer Eric Joering, 39, died at the scene and his colleague, Tony Morelli, 54, died at a local hospital. He said the officers were responding to a “potential domestic situation” and were fired on almost as soon as they entered the building on Crosswind Drive to investigate.
“The officers gave their lives in defense of others,” Morbitzer said during a news conference, struggling to keep his emotions in check. He called them “true American heroes.”
“These were two of the best we had,” Morbitzer said. “This was their calling and they did it right, they knew how to do policing the right way, both of them.”
The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio asks anyone who wishes to support the families to donate at GoFundMe.com/FOPLodge9HelpFund.
Joering was a 17-year police veteran and Morelli was a 30-year veteran. Police have identified the suspect as 30-year-old Quentin L. Smith.
Police released incident reports showing officers had been to Smith’s home or had dealings with him several times since 2017, some for alleged domestic violence involving a woman identified in the reports as his wife, Candace Smith.
Authorities said he was wounded and was treated at a hospital.
In a Nov. 29 incident, Candace Smith, 33, went to a police station and asked about protection orders because she said she and her husband weren’t getting along and she discovered she had a sexually transmitted disease. She also told police that when she “threatens to leave Quentin, he tells her that he would kill her, their daughter, and himself,” the report said.
Candace Smith told police her husband “has a gun that he carries all of the time, and if it isn’t on him, it is close by.” Police were called to the home later that night to investigate a report of domestic violence.