- By Keisha Rowe Staff Writer
The Clark County Sheriff’s Office is reaching out to a fellow Ohio police agency following the deaths of two of their long-serving officers.
Clark County will send deputies to the funerals on Friday of Westerville Officers Anthony Morelli, 54, and Eric Joering, 39, who lost their lives while responding to a 9-1-1 hang-up call in the city near Columbus on Feb. 10.
A public visitation will be held for them from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Friday at St. Paul Catholic Church in Westerville. Funeral services will begin at 1 p.m.
Lt. Kristopher Shultz of the sheriff’s office said even though no staff from their division knew the officers personally, they were aware of the impact their deaths had here in Springfield. The sheriff’s office lost an officer, Deputy Suzanne Hopper, in the line of duty in 2011.
“We as an agency and as personnel here understand the feelings that Westerville and their agency as a whole are going through,” he said. “We lost one. I can’t imagine how painful and emotionally traumatic it is for them to have to lost two people on the same call.”
Morelli and Joering responded to the hang-up call that came from a Westerville townhome. A woman called again after Quentin L. Smith, 30, allegedly opened fire on the officers and told dispatchers they had been shot, Westerville police said. Smith, who was shot five times after more officers responded to the scene, was taken to a Columbus area hospital and is expected to survive his injuries.
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Springfield Police Chief Lee Graf said the Springfield Police Division also will send representatives from the city. Sprinfield police officers also have been authorized to wear mourning bands on their badges for the rest of the month in honor of the fallen officers, Graf said.
Clark County deputies plan on sending their honor guard, as well as other members of the agency, to the service in order to pay their respects, Shultz said.
“For them to have those long careers there and to have them be taken in this manner is traumatic, especially to the department, but also to the community that they serve,” he said.