(COLUMBUS, Ohio) — Two Ohio police officers were shot and killed Saturday as they were responding to a 911 hang-up call.
Joe Morbitzer, the chief of the Westerville Division of Police, was visibly shaken as he appeared before reporters during a press conference early Saturday evening.
Before Morbitzer spoke, Westerville city manager Dave Collingsworth identified the fallen officers as Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.
Morbitzer called them “true heroes” who were “pillars of our department” and saluted them for sacrificing their lives for the safety of the public.
“These were two of the best we have,” Morbitzer said. “This was their calling and they did it right.”
The chief described how Joering and Morelli reached the residence eight minutes after the 911 hang-up call was logged at 12:10 p.m., in the suburban city about 20 miles north of Columbus.
“As they went into the apartment they were immediately met with gunfire,” Morbitzer said, adding that they were informed the matter was a “potential domestic situation”.
After both cops were struck, Morbitzer said that 39-year-old Joering died on scene while Morelli, 54, was transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he died.
The suspect was also shot and was transported to a local hospital, officials said.
The investigation is being led by the Columbus Police Department, Morbitzer confirmed.
Joering was a 17-year veteran of the Westerville Police Department and Morelli served for 30 years.
News of the loss of the law enforcement officers’ lives rippled around the state of Ohio and the nation.
President Donald Trump expressed his sadness in a tweet: “My thoughts and prayers are with the two police officers, their families, and everybody at the @WestervillePD.”
Gov. John Kasich tweeted his condolences: “I am very saddened to learn of the deaths of two of my hometown police officers today. I have spoken with Westerville city leaders and pledged the full assistance of the Ohio Highway Patrol in any way they need.
“We will learn more soon about this tragic incident but please join me in lifting up these officers’ families in prayer.”
“We are deeply saddened to report that one of our officers has been killed in the line of duty,” the city government of Westerville tweeted.
The city later added in an updated tweet: “It is with a heavy heart we report a second Westerville officer has been killed in the line of duty.”
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