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Officer killed while responding to 911 call in Westerville was from Massillon

Posted at 3:47 PM, Feb 11, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-12 10:16:05-05

One of the officers who was shot and killed while responding to a 911 call near Columbus on Saturday was a Northeast Ohio native.

Officer Anthony Morelli, 54, was originally from Massillon, according to the Westerville Police Department, where he served for 30 years.

On Sunday, Massillon High School football coach Nate Moore mourned the loss of Morelli.

Morelli and Officer Eric Joering, 39, were shot as they entered an apartment while responding to a 911 call that ended with a hangup. Police say they were responding to a possible domestic situation. According to the Associated Press, police had been called to that home three times since September of last year for domestic disputes, but no arrests were ever made.

The suspect, 30-year-old Quentin Smith, was convicted in Cuyahoga County of felony burglary and misdemeanor domestic violence charges in 2009 and was sentenced to four years in prison. Records show he has a past residence listed in Euclid.

It's still unclear exactly what caused the 911 call and how or why the officers were shot, but AP 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 on Saturday, according to Westerville police.

Westerville police chief Joe Morbitzer remembered both officers as "true American heroes."

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the families of Officers Morelli and Joering. The original goal of $50,000 has already been significantly surpassed. As of Sunday afternoon, the page had raised $175,085, well on its way to a new goal of $250,000.