Man charged with buying gun for suspect accused of killing Westerville officers

Photo of Gerald Lawson provided by Franklin County Jail

COLUMBUS – Gerald A. Lawson III, 30, of Warrensville Heights, was charged by criminal complaint for allegedly acting as a straw purchaser for Quentin L. Smith, a convicted felon who is accused of shooting and killing two Westerville police officers on Feb. 10.

Lawson was charged with aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He was arrested Monday by federal agents and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson at 3:30 p.m.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, when Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering responded to a disturbance call on Crosswind Drive in Westerville, Smith was armed with a Glock semi-automatic handgun.

An undisclosed witness told investigators Smith provided Lawson money for the firearm and an extra $100 to compensate Lawson – who knew Smith had been convicted of a felony – for buying the gun for him.

Investigators learned Lawson and Smith have a long history of friendship. A review of Lawson’s social media accounts after the incident on Feb. 10 revealed a post by Lawson displaying three photographs of both of the men together.

Firearm trace results indicate the Glock firearm was purchased by Lawson in Broadview Heights.

Aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison. As a convicted felon, Smith is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

A criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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