2 officers shot dead after responding to 911 hang-up call were ‘best we have’: chief

iStock/Thinkstock(COLUMBUS, Ohio) -- Two Ohio police officers were shot and killed Saturday as they were responding to a 911 hang-up call.

Joe Morbitzer, the chief of the Westerville Division of Police, was visibly shaken as he appeared before reporters during a press conference early Saturday evening.

Before Morbitzer spoke, Westerville city manager Dave Collingsworth identified the fallen officers as Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.

Morbitzer called them "true heroes" who were "pillars of our department" and saluted them for sacrificing their lives for the safety of the public.

"These were two of the best we have," Morbitzer said. "This was their calling and they did it right."

The chief described how Joering and Morelli reached the residence eight minutes after the 911 hang-up call was logged at 12:10 p.m., in the suburban city about 20 miles north of Columbus.

"As they went into the apartment they were immediately met with gunfire," Morbitzer said, adding that they were informed the matter was a “potential domestic situation”.

After both cops were struck, Morbitzer said that 39-year-old Joering died on scene while Morelli, 54, was transported to the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, where he died.

The suspect, Quentin Lamar Smith, was also shot and was transported to a local hospital, officials said. He was charged Sunday with two counts of aggravated murder.

The investigation is being led by the Columbus Police Department, Morbitzer confirmed.

Joering was a 17-year veteran of the Westerville Police Department and Morelli served for 30 years.

News of the loss of the law enforcement officers' lives rippled around the state of Ohio and the nation.

New York City Police Chief James O'Neill tweeted out in solidarity with the fallen officers and said the entire nation, not just fellow law enforcement officers, should be devastated.

He added: "No cop, anywhere, “signed up” to be murdered."

President Donald Trump also expressed his sadness.

And Gov. John Kasich tweeted his condolences of the tragedy which occurred in the politician's hometown.

"We are deeply saddened to report that one of our officers has been killed in the line of duty," the city government of Westerville tweeted.

The city later added in an updated tweet: "It is with a heavy heart we report a second Westerville officer has been killed in the line of duty."

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