Feb 12, 2018, 8:27 PM ET

Man arrested for allegedly buying gun used in killing of Ohio officers at scene of 911 hang-up call

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A second man has been arrested in the slaying of two Ohio police officers for allegedly buying the gun using in the killing, federal authorities said.

Gerald Lawson III, 30, is accused of acting as a straw purchaser for the suspect, 30-year-old Quentin Lamar Smith, who is a convicted felon and not permitted to buy a firearm, the Justice Department for the Southern District of Ohio said.

The Saturday shooting took place when Westerville police officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli responded to a 911 hang-up Saturday and were "immediately met with gunfire" and exchanged fire with Smith, police said.

PHOTO: Police tape cordons off the area where two Westerville, Ohio, police officers were shot and killed responding to a hang-up 911 call, on Feb. 10, 2018. The officers were shot around noon after entering the residence.Andrew Welsh-Huggins/AP
Police tape cordons off the area where two Westerville, Ohio, police officers were shot and killed responding to a hang-up 911 call, on Feb. 10, 2018. The officers were shot around noon after entering the residence.

PHOTO: Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Westerville, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2018.Tom Dodge/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Westerville, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2018.

Smith, who allegedly had a Glock semi-automatic handgun, was also injured in the shooting and is in the hospital, authorities said. He is expected to survive, police said. The Columbus Division of Police, which is leading the investigation, has filed two counts of aggravated murder charges, according to the city of Westerville. He has not yet entered a plea.

Lawson and Smith "have a long history of friendship," according to the Justice Department.

The Justice Department said a witness told investigators Smith gave Lawson money for the firearm and an extra $100 as compensation.

Lawson was arrested today and charged with aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, the Justice Department said. He is scheduled to appear before a judge this afternoon.

PHOTO: Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Westerville, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2018. Tom Dodge/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Westerville, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2018.

PHOTO: Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Westerville, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2018.Tom Dodge/The Columbus Dispatch via AP
Police investigate the scene of a shooting in Westerville, Ohio, Feb. 10, 2018.

The officers were "true American heroes" and "were two of the best we had," Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said this weekend.

“This was their calling, and they did it right," Morbitzer said.

PHOTO: Mourners leave flowers on a police cruiser parked in front of City Hall in Westerville, Ohio, on Feb. 11, 2018. Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering were killed in the line of duty on Feb. 10, 2018.Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY
Mourners leave flowers on a police cruiser parked in front of City Hall in Westerville, Ohio, on Feb. 11, 2018. Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering were killed in the line of duty on Feb. 10, 2018.

PHOTO: Mourners leave flowers on a police cruiser parked in front of City Hall in Westerville, Ohio, on Feb. 11, 2018.Sam Greene/Cincinnati Enquirer via USA TODAY
Mourners leave flowers on a police cruiser parked in front of City Hall in Westerville, Ohio, on Feb. 11, 2018.

Ohio Gov. John Kasich today ordered all flags be flown at half-staff in the state in honor of two police officers, who were gunned down in the governor's hometown.

A procession was held this morning for the fallen officers, leading from the coroner's office to the funeral homes.

PHOTO: Fallen Westerville Police officers were honored Monday morning, Feb. 12, 2018, with a procession that started at the Franklin County Coroners Officer and ended at the Hill and Moreland Funeral Homes in Westerville, Ohio.WBNS
Fallen Westerville Police officers were honored Monday morning, Feb. 12, 2018, with a procession that started at the Franklin County Coroner's Officer and ended at the Hill and Moreland Funeral Homes in Westerville, Ohio.

Morelli, 54, was a 29-year veteran of the department.

PHOTO: Westerville Police Officer Anthony Morelli was fatally shot on February 10, 2018, responding to a 911 hang-up phone call. Westerville Police Department
Westerville Police Officer Anthony Morelli was fatally shot on February 10, 2018, responding to a 911 hang-up phone call.

Joering, 39, was a 16-year veteran of the department.

PHOTO: Westerville Police Officer Eric Joering was fatally shot on February 10, 2018, responding to a 911 hang-up phone call.Westerville Police Department
Westerville Police Officer Eric Joering was fatally shot on February 10, 2018, responding to a 911 hang-up phone call.

Morelli was married with two children and Joering was married with four daughters, according to The New York Times.

Morelli's and Joering's families released a statement saying how "thankful" they are for the Westerville community.

"We feel loved and blessed, and we are appreciative of the outpouring of support," the statement read. "We have seen and heard so much from people who have shared stories about how our men impacted their lives. They will be so greatly missed, not only by us, but by everyone they touched."

The statement described the fallen officers as "dedicated," both to their jobs and as their roles as fathers and husbands.

"We are so sad that Eric will not see his three daughters graduate from high school. We’re devastated Tony will not be able to walk his daughter down the aisle at her wedding," the statement read.

The families requested privacy and "time to heal" to mourn the loss of the officers.

Morbitzer said Sunday that as the department works with the families on funeral arrangements, the police "have seen fake GoFundMe pages established already. We have had people calling our radio room screaming threats, obscenities and vulgarities at our radio techs. And quite frankly there’s a special place in hell for those people, and my wish is that it comes very soon.”

President Donald Trump tweeted Sunday that he spoke to Kasich "to express condolences and prayers to all for the horrible shooting of two great police officers."

Kasich tweeted about the shooting several times, including to say, "The finest among us are those who risk it all everyday for our safety, and Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering were those people. Their deaths are a terrible tragedy for my hometown of Westerville and all of Ohio."

New York City Police Commissioner James O'Neill also spoke out, tweeting, "Everyone should be as upset about this as America’s law enforcement officers are. No cop, anywhere, 'signed up' to be murdered."

Lawson was not required to enter a plea in federal court on Monday during a brief appearance, according to The Associated Press.

News - Man arrested for allegedly buying gun used in killing of Ohio officers at scene of 911 hang-up call

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  • ToothyGrinn

    The grammar is at best, unfortunate, in this article.

  • j a

    Hopefully, they give the guy who bought the gun for a known criminal a long sentence. This may prevent others from doing the same thing.

  • Mr. Logical

    RIP officers.
    I know the suspects won't.

  • Lee-Anne Griffin

    I hope he gets the same sentence as the shooter.

  • heavensdoor

    Tonight on our two PBS stations..including the one from New York City..a special documentary by
    director Craig Atkinson's POV: Do Not Resist..whereby he warns the population about the
    the militarization of the police the US>..this propaganda garbage being broadcast to already
    cop hating liberal New York/area is the work of a man who will slant the police in this country
    as out of control. It might and could cause even more murders of our police officers. The
    left in this country wants this country to fail..and this biased...edited crap will do help their cause.
    Already..the highlights show cops busting through a ghetto door .
    PBS the left wing station that it has strictly become will never show a documentary about the
    outbreak in intentional targeted police officers. NEVER. But when these same PBS people
    need help..who do they call? Well let them call Kaepernick and his buddies. These people
    scare me..they are so into dismantling this country...and you start by dismantling the police.

  • milolewis

    My heart felt condolences to the families ..It's good that they are making the ones who sold the gun to him responsible .

  • ProfPalefuddy

    These two criminals were / are American Citizens killing their own police. Why? One thing is clear they had no intention of surviving the attack. Suicide by Cop along with murder. What brings on such madness? Was it economics, past treatment, or shared Suicide Pact type Mental Illness? We should seek to understand in order to build a more civil community, so that Police and Citizen can live in peace.

  • ProfPalefuddy

    Does the NRA ever point out that the Guns police carry didn't protect them? What we need is more civility and fewer guns.

  • Victor Vale

    I am sure they are considering more charges against him. If they can find any information that he possible knew of the shooter's plan I am sure he will be charged with conspiracy to commit murder. The fact that he was wounded in the attack would hint that besides purchasing the weapon he also might have somehow been involved in the actual attack.

  • Holly II

    "We have had people calling our radio room screaming threats, obscenities and vulgarities at our radio techs." Why are people calling the police dept and doing this? What is their point? i agree...there is a special place in hell for these types.

  • Sophie Rose

    I do NOT want to take away anyone's LEGALLY purchased guns. HOWEVER, if you buy a gun and then sell it to someone that cannot legally possess a gun you should be charged as an accessory in any crime they commit.

    The same goes for gun owners that do not secure their guns and someone - a kid, a burglar takes the gun and commits a crime.

  • Raymond King

    Two white police officers murdered by a black man
    Where is the outrage?
    Where are the protesters?
    Where is the destruction of property and looting?

    The lack of action can also be labeled as Racism.

  • ycplum

    So, will he also be charged with Felony Murder? The exact name and definition varies a bit by State, but it is basically commiting a felony that indirectly results in a death. The one sticking point is that it usually involves a dangerous and/or reckless action. However, I would argue that assisting a felon (or someone who has been determined unsuitable to own a gun) is dangerous.

  • Brian 9876

    Getaway drivers, those who hire hit men, and straw purchasers are all enablers. It would be interesting to see the differences, if any, in penalties for these crimes.

  • TexasVulcan

    How sad for the families and friends of these officers/