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Local officers gather for procession to funeral for slain Westerville officers

Area law enforcement officers gathered in Dayton Friday morning before embarking to Westerville, Ohio for the funerals of two slain officers. 

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Police, deputies, and state troopers from multiple Miami Valley jurisdictions met at the Dayton Airport Expo Center around 8 a.m., before making the trip to the Columbus suburb. The convoy was organized jointly by the Miami County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial and the Montgomery County Law Enforcement Officers Memorial, Dayton police Lt. Mark Ponichtera said Tuesday. 

Westerville Police Department is escorted to the funeral service.

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“We realize it could be any one of us at any time and so no matter who’s in the car traveling, we realize that could be any of us,” Ponichtera said. “Any call that we go on is extremely dangerous if someone is bent on criminal intent towards a police officer; that’s very difficult to mitigate.”

Several Butler County agencies also joined other jurisdictions Friday morning for their procession from Southwest Ohio. 

A viewing is scheduled from 10 a.m. to noon for Westerville police officers Anthony Morelli, 54, and Eric Joering, 39, at St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church in Westerville, followed by the funeral at 1 p.m., according to a report from the Associated Press. 

Officers receive instructions before heading to Westerville for the funeral of two officers killed in the line of duty last Saturday. (Jarod Thrush/Staff)

Morelli and Joering were gunned down when they responded to a 911-hang up call around noon on Saturday.  Quentin L. Smith, 30, has been charged with two counts of aggravated murder. 

Gerald A. Lawson, 30, is also facing charges in the incident for allegedly buying the gun used by Smith in the shooting. 

Staff writer Laura Bischoff and the Associated Press contributed to this story. 

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