Memorials grow for fallen officers as community, police department mourn

WCMH photo/Olivia Fecteau

WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) — Flowers and flags covered a Westerville Police Department cruiser Sunday, as the vehicle was parked on the lawn at City Hall, adjacent to the police department.

On the steps of the police department itself, another memorial grew. With flowers in hand, mourners with tears in their eyes came to pay respects to two officers killed in the line of duty.

WCMH photo/Olivia Fecteau

“Heaven has definitely got a few angels, a few more angels,” Elizabeth Galli said.

“It just hurts, cause there’s nothing you can really say to them to help, except for offer prayers,” Randy Kingston said.

Blue ribbons hung from trees, railings and poles as flags flew at half staff outside the department.

“We’re just a family, we’re all family,” Pat Kingston said. “And we just want to do something to be here for the family.”

Speaking at a press conference Sunday morning, Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer appeared choked up and emotional.

“But we will get through this,” Morbitzer said. “Our folks will take the families under our wings and we will make sure that they’re taken care of tremendously.”

Officer Eric Joering, 39, and Officer Anthony Morelli, 54, had served the Westerville community for a total of more than 45 years.

“The first thing I wanted to do was reach out to those families, but I know that’s impossible,” Elizabeth Galli said. “So the next best thing is to come up here and show my support.”

The police chief asked those who would twist this tragedy for their own benefit to stop what they’re doing.

WCMH photo/Olivia Fecteau

“We have fake GoFundMe pages established already,” Morbitzer said. “We have 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.”

Now, the community continues to grieve for the men and rallies around the people left behind.

“People don’t think before they take action, and people need to think first,” Kimberly Howell said.

“There are no words, only hugs in a situation like this,” Galli said.

The police chief said he was grateful for neighboring police departments that have stepped up to help patrol Westerville as the department grieves.

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