COLUMBUS (WCMH) – With a flag flying at half-staff, men and women in uniform lined Cannon Drive late Monday morning as they raised their hands in a salute to two fallen police officers.
Law enforcement officers escorted the bodies of Officer Anthony Morelli and Officers Eric Joering, both killed in the line of duty, from the Franklin County Coroner’s office to funeral homes in Westerville.
Among those present to support the Westerville Police Department were officers with the Columbus Division of Police-a department that is no stranger to tragedy.
“An entire nation is with them, including tens of thousands of police officers around the country,” said Deputy Chief Thomas Quinlan. “It’s not just the local community. This is something that brings a nation together, and I think they have the support and outpouring of love and prayers from everyone across the country.”
Cruisers rolled from Cannon Drive to the procession route, followed by Blendon Township medic vehicles carrying the slain officers.
Julie Rees and Jessica Wise were among the spectators watching the procession begin. Rees, who lives in Hilliard, is married to a Blendon Township police officer.
“As law enforcement families, we all feel the impact, but our whole community is grieving,” Rees said. “[We] just came out to show our support from our standpoint and be with others who are feeling the pain at this time.”
Wise, who lives in Westerville, is married to a Columbus police officer.
“A lot of shock, a lot of devastation,” Wise said of her reaction to the tragedy. “I love Westerville, I love being a part of that community, so it’s just absolutely heartbreaking that this happened in Westerville.”
Although neither woman knew the officers personally, they’re offering their support to the families and colleagues of the two men who were killed.
“It’s just amazing,” Rees said. “No one fights alone in this field. We’ve got a community behind us, we’ve got the best support out there. It’s amazing to see the turnout today.”
Lou and Judy Ball said they have lived in Westerville for 19 years and came to support the police, their families and the community.
“We have a dear friend that is a Columbus police officer and our heart just aches for all the men in blue,” said Judy Ball.
Charity Washington was also standing along the roadway waiting for the procession. She said her nephew is dating slain Officer Eric Joering’s daughter, and said all officers need our support and praise.
“When you see an officer thank them for their service, they don’t get much praise but they are running to the danger when we are running away,” said Washington, who is also a Westerville North High School graduate.
The lines of mourners on Huber Village Blvd were farther than the eye could see, stretching form Westerville Road, down Huber Village, Spring Street and Schrock Road.
“I always knew Westerville is an amazing community. I have had friends that have grown up here. Family oriented and just a strong community as a whole, and the support for their law enforcement and these two is just unbelievable,” Von Bron said.
The Fraternal Order of Police of Ohio asks anyone who wishes to support the families to donate at GoFundMe.com/FOPLodge9HelpFund.