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Warrensville Heights man charged with buying gun used to shoot, kill two Westerville police officers

Posted at 1:19 PM, Feb 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-12 17:17:36-05

A Warrensville Heights man is facing charges for allegedly buying the weapon used in a shooting that killed two Westerville police officers over the weekend.

Gerald A. Lawson III, 30, was arrested by federal agents and charged with aiding and abetting a firearm to the shooting suspect and convicted felon, 30-year-old Quentin L. Smith.

Westerville officers Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, were shot and killed as they entered an apartment while responding to a 911 call that ended with a hangup.

Investigators learned Smith and Lawson had a long friendship. A witness told investigators that Smith provided money to Lawson for a firearm, giving him an extra $100 to compensate Lawson for buying the gun for him.


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A review of Lawson's social media accounts after the shooting showed three photographs of the two together.

As a convicted felon, Smith is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm. A trace of the firearm shows Lawson bought the gun in Broadview Heights.

Smith was convicted in Cuyahoga County of felony burglary and misdemeanor domestic violence charges in 2009, a conviction that sentenced him to four years in prison.

It's unclear what caused the 911 call and how or why the officers were shot, but the Associated Press reports a woman can be heard on the phone crying and saying, "won't let me in." At 12:12 p.m., an officer  tells dispatch it's "all quiet right now." At 12:13 p.m., someone yells, "we have shots fired."

Smith was shot and hospitalized during the incident, according to Westerville police.