WESTERVILLE, OH (WCMH) — At the Church of the Messiah in uptown Westerville, blue and black cloth was draped over the altar to honor police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.
Morelli and Joering was killed in the line of duty Saturday afternoon after responding to a 9-1-1 hang up call.
During Sunday morning church services, Pastor Jim Wilson said both officers were known to many church members.
“Officer Morelli would come here to Church of the Messiah and interact with the pre-school kids,” Wilson said. “We knew these guys.”
Wilson said the killing of two police officers has shaken the community to its core.
“And some people will say its not the community that we thought it was,” Wilson said. “I say this morning Westerville is the community that it is. It is a community of love. It is a community of compassion and today it’s a community that grieves.”
Several hundred people filled the gym at Westerville North High School Sunday afternoon looking for a way to express their condolences. The community gathering that included about a dozen Westerville police officers, was organized by lifelong Westerville resident Mindy Drayer.
“This is our way of showing you how loved you are and our support.”
Retired teacher Audrey Spahr said she did not personally know Morelli or Joering but said she feels connected.
“We owe them everything, everything,” Spahr said. “And to their families, we grieve with their families.”
Longtime police department chaplain Jim Meacham said police officers serve far above themselves.
“Never did I ever think we would have a day like this,” Meacham said. “A day when we would see 2 officers shot dead and have services for two of our heroes.”