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Published: Saturday, February 10, 2018 @ 2:27 PM
Updated: Monday, February 12, 2018 @ 8:50 PM
WESTERVILLE — Several hundred Ohioans lined the streets of Westerville to pay tribute as a somber procession of hundreds of police cars escorted two fallen officers from the Franklin County morgue to two Westerville funeral homes.
As the medic transport rolled by, officers and firefighters saluted, the crowd fell silent and people wiped away tears and held their hands over their hearts.
Officers Anthony Morelli, 54, and Eric Joering, 39, were gunned down when they responded to a 911-hang up call around noon on Saturday on Crosswind Drive. Records show police had previously been at the address for domestic violence calls.
Monday night, the families of the officers issued a statement via Twitter:
Statement from the families of Westerville police officers Eric Joering and Tony Morelli: pic.twitter.com/NimaHL0phf— Jessie Balmert (@jbalmert) February 13, 2018
Westerville resident Ben Nichols stood on East Shrock Road awaiting officers arrival and remembered Morelli as the resource officer in his middle school. “”This hits close to home,” he said. “He was a personable guy. He always had a big smile on his face.”
In respect of the ultimate sacrifice made by Officers Morelli and Joering, I am ordering the lowering of flags until they are laid to rest. pic.twitter.com/BQolooOceJ— John Kasich (@JohnKasich) February 12, 2018
“He was the first person to jump in and diffuse a situation. He could talk his way into or out of anything to help somebody out. Always smiling,” said Jack Denzinger, who also remembered Morelli from Blendon Middle School.
Morelli had been on the force 29 years while Joering served Westerville police for 16 years, according to the Westerville Police Department.
The show of support didn’t surprise Westerville native Kim Cleaver. “This community pulls together. Very much,” she said.
Quentin L. Smith, 30, is charged with two counts of aggravated murder. Smith, who was shot five times, is in stable condition at a Columbus area hospital and is expected to survive his wounds, said Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien. O’Brien added that Smith is eligible for the death penalty — an option that will be reviewed as the case proceeds.
In 9-1-1 calls to Westerville Police, Candace Smith reported that she was outside hiding in the bushes while her 1-year-old daughter was inside their townhome and that Quentin Smith had shot a police officer. “Please help. Please help. Please help,” she tells dispatchers. “He shot the police officers. Hurry up. My daughter is in there.”
Federal authorities announced that Gerald A. Lawson, III, 30, of Warrensville Heights, is facing criminal charges for allegedly buying the Glock semi-automatic handgun for Smith. He was arrested Monday. Smith is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm because he has felony convictions for burglary and domestic violence. The two men are long-time friends, according to the U.S. Attorney’s office.
Lawson is charged with aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, a federal crime that carries up to 10 years in prison.
Gov. John Kasich ordered flags flown at half staff until Morelli and Joering are buried. The governor received a condolence call from President Trump on Sunday.
“Just spoke to @JohnKasich to express condolences and prayers to all for the horrible shooting of two great police officers from @WestervillePD. This is a true tragedy!” Trump said in a tweet.
The Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #9 set up a GoFundMe account for the Joering and Morelli families with medical bills, funeral expenses and scholarship funds for their children. By Monday afternoon, it had raised $295,545 from 4,234 donors.
Police are warning to beware of scam accounts attempting to collect money.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 6:44 PM
lebanon — Two 13-year-old Mason boys on Wednesday were placed on probation and ordered to write an apologies for making threats against their school in separate incidents in April.
In a third hearing Wednesday in Warren County Juvenile Court, Judge Joe Kirby released to a Clearcreek Twp. boy to his father. The student was charged with threatening to shoot up his school on May 15 with Nerf guns.
Over the past three months, Kirby has presided over 15 or more school threat cases.
On Wednesday, the Mason boys appeared in separate hearings where they admitted to charges before being sentenced.
One boy was accused of “circulating a warning of an impending crime, namely someone wanting to shoot students at the Mason Middle School, knowing the warning to be false” on April 8, according to charging documents.
The threat, posted on the district’s Schoology page, contained “a great deal of vulgarity” indicated the boy was “impersonating a classmate, and that there was no credible threat to school or student safety,” according to a message from the district.
The other boy admitted “murmuring” a threat to shoot his teacher after being reprimanded for listening to videos with headphones during class on April 12.
Both passed polygraphs, admitted to inducing panic and received suspended detention sentences.
Kirby was harder on the boy who used his friend’s computer identity to make the threat. The friend’s parents said he had been shaken by the experience.
“Unbelievable,” Kirby said. “It sounds to me like you’re a jerk.”
In the other case, lawyer Ed Perry said violent video games arm the children with words like Glock, the kind of gun his client said he would use on his teacher, although he admitted during the hearing he didn’t know much about that type of gun.
“I don’t think the children appreciate what they are talking about,” Perry said.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 3:41 PM
MIAMI COUNTY — Nearly $4,000 worth of methamphetamine was seized Saturday in Troy during a traffic stop on Interstate 75 and a man is now facing felony charges.
Brian Roose, 36, of Edgerton, was arrested near the Ohio 55 exit on I-75.
Roose allegedly had 74 grams of meth, a scale, packaging materials and other pieces of paraphernalia in his possession when troopers pulled him over around 11:25 a.m., troopers said.
Troopers said Roose also had a loaded rifle and a handgun in the vehicle.
Roose was booked into jail on suspicion of multiple drug and weapons charges, however was not listed as an inmate Wednesday.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 11:12 AM
HARRISON TWP. — A shots fired investigation has deputies blocking both directions of North Dixie Drive south of Needmore Road in Harrison Twp. Wednesday morning.
A man told our crew on the scene he was shot at, but was not injured. Dispatchers said this incident might have started nearby on Foxton Court.
No shooting victims have been found, however, scanner traffic indicates a medic unit was requested to the scene for someone suffering breathing problems around 10:30 a.m.
Additional details were not available, we’ll update this page as we learn more.
Published: Wednesday, May 23, 2018 @ 5:19 PM
HAMILTON — A former Butler County resident was arrested last weekend in Hamilton on sexual assault charges from Wayne County, Ind.
Shawn D. Jones, 41, was booked into the Butler County Jail at 1:23 a.m. Sunday after he was located in the 600 block of East Avenue.
Jones was taken into custody after police learned he may be in the city. He was spotted on the porch of a house and arrested, according to Hamilton Sgt. Brian Robinson
On May 17, an arrest warrant was issued by Indiana law enforcement for Jones’ arrest for rape, aggravated battery, criminal confinement and strangulation, all felonies, according to an article in the Palladium-Item newspaper.
Jones, formerly of St. Clair Avenue in Hamilton, allegedly punched a woman in the face and beat her with a belt May 5 in her Richmond, Ind., home, according to court records. He also allegedly tried to hit the woman with an electric heater, but she blocked the blow with her arm, which resulted in a broken bone, according to court records.
Jones is also accused of sexually assaulting the woman multiple times and of choking her to the point she could not breathe.
He waived an extradition hearing this week in Butler County Common Pleas Court and is awaiting transport back to Indiana.