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Westerville Mourns Loss Of Two Police Officers

Karen Kasler
Ohio Public Radio

The Columbus suburb of Westerville is in mourning after two police officers were killed in what authorities describe as an ambush-style shooting.

In an emotional news conference, the Westerville Police Chief said Officers Eric Joerning and Anthony Morelli were two of the best we have who died protecting others.

"The officers gave their lives in defense of others," Joe Morbitzer said during a news conference, struggling to keep his emotions in check. He called them "true American heroes."

Joerning and Morelli were shot Saturday while responding to a 911 hang-up call.

The suspect is identified as 30-year-old Quentin Lamar Smith. He was shot but survived and was taken into custody.

Police released incident reports showing officers responded to his home or had other interactions with him several times since last year. In November his wife filed for a protection order from her husband and told police he carries a gun all of the time.

The Columbus Division of Police is investigating the shootings.

Republican Gov. John Kasich, who lives with his family in a nearby township, tweeted that he was "very saddened to learn of the deaths of two of my hometown police officers." He asked Ohio residents to join him in "lifting up these officers' families in prayer."

President Donald Trump tweeted: "My thoughts and prayers are with the two police officers, their families, and everybody at the @WestervillePD."

Joering was a 16-year police veteran and Morelli was a 30-year veteran.