Federal law enforcement charged an Ohio man on Monday with aiding and abetting his friend who killed two police officers, according to a complaint obtained by The Daily Beast.
Gerald Lawson III may serve up to 10 years in prison for allegedly purchasing a gun for convicted felon Quentin Smith, the man who allegedly shot to death Westerville Police Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering on Saturday. Morelli and Joering were responding to a 911 call regarding domestic violence when Smith shot the officers with a semi-automatic handgun, according to local reports. Smith was wounded but survived.
A witness told the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Explosives agents that Smith gave Lawson $100 to purchase the gun at a federally licensed arms dealer, according to the complaint. Smith was barred from purchasing firearms after serving part of a three-year sentence from 2009 to 2011 on burglary charges. Smith also has a history of domestic violence charges: in 2008, he pleaded guilty to holding a gun to his wife’s head which followed dismissed charges that claimed Smith stabbed his mother’s partner, Cleveland Plain Dealer reported.
Federal investigators said that Lawson and Smith “have a long history of friendship,” based on one of Lawson’s social media posts, which was later deleted, according to the complaint. Smith could face the death penalty, according to Cincinnati Enquirer.
Gov. John Kasich ordered all flags lowered to half-staff in remembrance of the two Westerville Police Officers who were buried on Monday afternoon, The Columbus Dispatch reported.
A GoFundMe page created by a Fraternal Order of Police Lodge member has raised over $300,000 for the police officers’ families, in hopes that the donations will help cover medical bills and funeral costs, among other expenses.
The City of Westerville Facebook account posted a picture of a vigil dedicated to Morelli and Joering. “While our hearts are broken, we remain #WestervilleStrong. Please continue to keep the families of Officers Morelli and Joering in your thoughts,” read the post.