Officer Morelli was 'the best example' of a school resource officer

Officer Morelli was a school resource officer at Blendon Middle School. (WSYX/WTTE)

Vicki Jarrell remembers her first year as an assistant principal at Blendon Middle School. She remembers how nervous she felt, and how much she wanted to prove herself.

Most of all, she remembers the school resource officer back then, Tony Morelli.

“I could always count on him to say, ‘Hey, you’ve got this,’” Jarrell recalled Tuesday. “And he did the same thing with the kids. He was all about the relationship. He was all about making sure that people knew he cared.”

Officer Morelli worked at Blendon Middle School for about five years — a long time for a police officer to be dedicated to one school. Jarrell says Morelli excelled at the job, because he was never afraid to be himself, and never uncertain how to handle a situation.

“The kids adored him, which is so important in a middle school,” Jarrell said. “You really want to have a connection with police officers, because kids need to know that they can trust them. And Tony was the best example of that.”

Jarrell says when Morelli left the school to go back on regular road patrol duty, he said that he simply felt it was time to serve his community in a different way.

She was sad, but not afraid for his safety.

“I should have been,” she says now.

Morelli was one of two Westerville police officers shot and killed in Saturday, during a response to a domestic violence call. Officer Eric Joering died instantly; Morelli was pronounced dead after being flown to a nearby hospital.

Vicki Jarrell was driving out-of-town when she got the news and had to pull over.

“I was dizzy with shock and grief,” she said through tears on Tuesday. “And it has stayed with me all weekend...and probably always will.”

Among the memories Jarrell will carry with her is a “good luck” card that Morelli gave to her, when he left Blendon Middle School. She has saved that card for several years.

“He wrote about what he saw in me, and my potential. And that wasn’t his job, but he did that with the adults, as well as with the kids,” she said. “He saw the good in people, and he sought to bring it out. He was exceptional.

“We have suffered a great loss,” she said. “The world was a better place with him in it.”

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