A bench dedicated to the memory of two fallen police officers in Westerville was vandalized this week.
The bench was a project of the PTA at McVay Elementary School and had just been installed at the school’s playground last week. It was inscribed in memory of officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli who were shot and killed in the line of duty earlier this year.
PTA president Courtney Williams says it’s a “buddy bench” where “kids can come and sit if they need somebody to play with and other kids know that that’s a signal that that kid needs a friend,” Williams said. “We thought that it would be most appropriate to inscribe the bench and place it in their honor because they were the buddies to these kids and to everyone else in the community.”
A police report says “someone used a knife or similar instrument to carve” curse words, drawings and scratches into the bench.
School officials say the school had been experiencing vandalism over the past several weeks – consistent with the kind of damage found on the bench. They say it does not appear this act of vandalism was directed at the police department or the officers.
The bench was removed to a storage room inside the school until it can be repaired and replaced.