Two police officers from Westerville, Ohio, were fatally shot Saturday in the line of duty while responding to a potential domestic violence call, officials said.
Shortly after noon Saturday, police dispatched officers to an apartment complex after receiving a 911 call from someone who hung up, authorities said.
“As they went into the apartment, they were immediately met with gunfire and both officers were shot,” an emotional Westerville Police Chief Joe Morbitzer said at a news conference.
Immediate details about the incident were scant, though Morbitzer described it as a “potential domestic situation.” In the initial 911 call, a woman can be heard crying before the call disconnects, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer.
The newspaper also obtained tape from a subsequent 911 call the woman made.
“Please help, please help, please help,” the woman can be heard frantically telling a dispatcher. “My husband shot — he shot the police officers. Please hurry up. My daughter is in there.”
The woman then added that she was hiding in the bushes in the front yard.
A Twitter account for the city of Westerville, just north of Columbus, first posted just before 2 p.m. that one officer had been killed. About an hour later, the city tweeted that a second officer had died as well.
Authorities identified the two slain officers as Anthony Morelli, 54, and Eric Joering, 39. Joering died at the scene, while Morelli died at the hospital where he was taken.
The pair were “two of the best we have,” said Morbitzer, struggling through tears. Morelli had been with the Westerville Police Department for 29 years; Joering had been on the force for 16 years.
“Both officers gave their life in protection of others,” Morbitzer said. “Those are true American heroes.”
The suspect was identified as 30-year-old Quentin Smith, city spokeswoman Christa Dickey said. Police said the suspect was wounded and taken to a hospital, but did not release further information about his condition or injuries.
The local Fraternal Order of Police set up a GoFundMe account, verified by the city, to help cover unpaid medical bills, funeral expenses, and education costs for the two officers’ children. Within hours, the fundraiser had exceeded its original goal of $50,000.
Over the weekend, President Trump offered his thoughts and prayers to the fallen officers, their families and the Westerville police, calling the fatal shooting “a true tragedy.”
Ohio Gov. John Kasich (R), who is from Westerville, also posted his condolences on Twitter.