Two police officers were killed in an ambush in Ohio Saturday afternoon.
Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering both died after they were met with gunfire while responding to calls of assistance at a potential domestic situation, Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said at a press conference Saturday.
The caller reportedly dialed 911 and then hung up, Morbitzer said.
He called the slain officers “two American heroes” as he described the incident’s details.
The officers responded to the “hang-up call” that came in at 12:02 in the afternoon. Officers Morelli and Joering arrived at the scene at 12:10 p.m., Morbitzer said.
“As they went into the apartment, they were immediately met with gunfire. Both officers were shot,” he said.
Joering was pronounced dead at the scene while Morelli was transported to a hospital where he later passed away.
A suspect is in custody and the Columbus Police Department is handling the investigation, according to officials.
Morbitzer reiterated the officers’ commitment to their duties.
“Both gave their life in protection of others and that’s what they lived and breathed,” Morbitzer said.
“We will miss both of these officers because they were pillars in our department. They were the ones people went to.”
“They literally dedicated their lives to our organization and citizens,” Morbitzer added.
Ohio Gov. John Kasich, a Westerville native, offered his condolences to the town and the officers’ loved ones.
“I am very saddened to learn of the deaths of two of my hometown police officers today. I have spoken with Westerville city leaders and pledged the full assistance of the Ohio Highway Patrol in any way they need,” he tweeted. “We will learn more soon about this tragic incident but please join me in lifting up these officers’ families in prayer.”
NYPD Commissioner James O’Neill also tweeted about the ambush.
“[email protected] confirms 2 officers ambushed & killed today after responding to a 911 hang-up; fired upon when they arrived at the address. Everyone should be as upset about this as America’s law enforcement officers are. No cop, anywhere, ‘signed up’ to be murdered,” he wrote.
Prior to the Saturday shooting, at least nine officers had been killed in gun-related incidents in the first couple weeks of 2018 — an increase from 2017’s five deaths, according to preliminary data from the National Law Enforcement Officers Memorial Fund.
At least 12 officers overall have died between Jan. 1 an Feb. 10, which is a decrease from the 15 officers killed during the same time frame last year.
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