Two police officers in the Columbus suburb of Westerville described as "true American heroes" were shot and killed in the line of duty Saturday afternoon, Westerville police said.
The suspect was also shot and wounded and taken to a hospital, police tell FOX19 NOW.
Officer Eric Joering and Officer Anthony Morelli were responding to a 911 hang-up call and "potential domestic situation" about noon when they were fired on as they arrived at a townhouse, Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said at a news conference Saturday.
Joering, 39, died at the scene, and Morelli, 54, died at a local hospital, he said.
“These were two of the best we had,” the police chief said. “This was their calling and they did it right, they knew how to do policing the right way, both of them.”
The families of the slain officers released this statement Monday:
“We’re very thankful for our family, friends and the Westerville community. We feel loved and blessed, and we are appreciative of the outpouring of support. 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.
Our men were dedicated officers for certain, but we knew them as dedicated fathers and husbands. When they were home, they were home. They left work at work. 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.
We want to thank the Westerville Division of Police, the Columbus Division of Police and all the police agencies in Central Ohio who have helped and supported us. We are thankful for the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 9 and The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. We know we’re not going to remember everyone right now, but we want to express our gratitude for the kindness and generosity we have been shown.
We are requesting our privacy to mourn our lost husbands and fathers. We need time to heal. We will be granting no interviews at this time.”
Police confirmed late Saturday the suspect was 30-year-old Quentin Lamar Smith.
The officers became the 4th and 5th nationally to be fatally shot in the line of duty in the last week, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The other three were killed in Colorado, Georgia, and Texas.
So far this year, 15 U.S. law enforcement officers have died in the line of duty. Eleven of them were shot to death, according to the non-profit memorial page dedicated to honoring those killed in the line of duty.
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