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Westerville mourns for fallen officers

A long line of police cruisers from across Central Ohio escorted the bodies of Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering to funeral homes in Westerville. (WSYX/WTTE)

Hundreds of people lined the procession route for two officers who were killed in the line of duty Saturday. A long line of police cruisers from across Central Ohio escorted the bodies of Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering to funeral homes in Westerville.

Westerville may be a rapidly growing community but many people who live there insist it still feels like a small town where people still know one another. Many of them knew the fallen officers personally.

"It was a blessing just to get to know him," said Rahn Zapman who met Officer Morelli when he was off duty. "He's a God-loving man, a family man. He cared about doing his job 100 percent first."

He was one of the first people to line Huber Village Boulevard to honor the man he will miss seeing around town.

"I've been shedding a lot of tears this weekend," he said. "It's very emotional for everybody. We're a very tight knit community in Westerville and we're in shock."

There was a somber silence from all the people who lined the procession route. Many people there had their own story of how one of the officers touched their lives.

"You remember him with a smile on his face," said Molly McKinney who met Officer Morelli when she was in school.

McKinney said Westerville has a special bond with the people who are sworn to serve and protect them.

"It says something about what kind of experience we have with them (seeing this many people here)," she said.

People lined up as far as the eye could see. Many of them stood in the cold for hours waiting for the procession. The community is mourning together.

"That's what community is all about, standing together, being side by side, just praying with each other," said Westerville resident Gail Panzone.

The community will get together again to heal Monday night. There's a vigil planned at Otterbein University at 8pm at Pride Rock.

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