Thousands line streets paying respects to fallen Westerville officers

Central Ohioans pay respects to fallen officers
Thousands line streets paying respects to fallen Westerville officers

Markus was among the first along State Street this morning, American flag in hand.

"Just to honor the men," he said. "This is beyond tragic."

He, like so many others there Monday, didn't know Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering.

But he knows something of what they faced every day.

"I used to work dispatch. So I've been on the receiving end of the calls when they come in. Knowing what the officers go through- you don't really know until you're out there. I've been there. That is why I honor them today."

For decades, Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering answered the call. They showed up for their community. And Monday, their community showed up for them.

"It's the least we can do," said Jake Bame of New Albany. "It's the least we can do."

"It's just so devastating for our community. Nothing like this has ever happened to us," said Ed Huber of Westerville.

He stood along State Street with a heavy, but grateful heart.

As a school resource officer, Anthony Morelli touched his family directly.

"He kind of mentored my son as a young kid. Sometimes as a parent you can't get through to your kids like other people can. And Officer Morelli kind of mentored him. They've become really good friends over the years. My son is now 27. He's in the National Guard. He's re-enlisted twice. He works for the Defense Department down off of Broad Street. He's doing really well, and I dedicate a lot of that to Mr. Morelli."

"It's just such a terrible tragedy," said Taylor Pannell of Westerville. "His daughter is walking down the aisle in the summer, and he's not going to be able to walk her down the aisle. And it's awful. It's not fair. It's selfish. None of this needed to happen."

It's why they needed to come out Monday. To process the pain. To salute service and sacrifice. And to let those who are hurting know, they are not alone.

"You know death is final," said Bame. "These guys gave everything. They gave their all. And we as a community need to come out and let these guys know they're loved. We need to surround their families and let them know they're loved. We need to surround the Westerville Police Department and let them know they're loved."