Two police officers in a city near Columbus, Ohio, were shot and killed Saturday while responding to a 911 hangup call involving potential domestic abuse, the authorities said.
Chief Joe Morbitzer of the Westerville Police Department said the officers, Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, had responded at 12:10 p.m., eight minutes after the call, about a “potential domestic situation.”
“As they went into the apartment they were immediately met with gunfire and both officers were shot,” Chief Morbitzer said at a news conference on Saturday afternoon. He paused several times to choke back tears.
Officer Joering, a 16-year veteran of the department, died at the scene. Officer Morelli, a 29-year veteran, was transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus in critical condition but later died.
“These were two of the best we had,” the chief said. “This was their calling and they did it right.” He called the officers “true American heroes.”
A suspect in the shootings was wounded when the officers returned fire, Christa Dickey, a spokeswoman for the city of Westerville, said in a phone interview. He was taken to a hospital and his condition was unknown, she said.
The shooting occurred in a condominium community on Crosswind Drive with about 500 residents, according to those who live in the area.
“It’s very sad. All you can do is pray at this point,” a resident, Charline Garrabrant, 75, said in a phone interview. The shooting occurred behind her garage.
Ms. Garrabrant and her husband, Karl Garrabrant, a retired fire chief for nearby Minerva Park, did not hear any gunfire, she said, and did not realize anything had happened until they saw police cars parked nearby and turned on their police scanner to learn more.
“Around here it’s always been pretty quiet,” she said. “I mean, the police have been here several times for mild disturbances, but not really close to where this happened.”
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SOURCE: New York Times, Jeffrey C. Mays