Veteran officers Antony Morelli, 54, and Eric Joering, 39, were killed in a shootout with a violent criminal Quentin Smith in the suburb of Columbus, Westerville Saturday.
A man was charged Monday with supplying the gun used to kill two veteran police officers in Ohio Saturday, authorities said.
Gerald Lawson, 30, a suburb of Cleveland, is accused of buying the gun for shooting suspect Quentin Smith last summer.
Smith gave Lawson the money to buy the gun along with $100 for the completion of the transaction, according to a criminal complaint filed against Lawson in federal court Monday.
If a felon has been convicted previously of burglary, Smith was prevented from having a weapon.
Lawson and Smith were old friends, and Lawson knew Smith could not have a weapon, researchers said. A social media post by Lawson after Saturday’s shooting “referenced is the long friendship between the two,” according to the complaint by ATF agent Teresa Petit.
Community, tips, social media posts and a gun trace led authorities Lawson, said Ronald Herndon, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.
Lawson, his hands and feet shackled, appeared briefly in federal court Monday in a hearing where he was not required to plea. A bond hearing was set for Wednesday.
It was not clear whether a lawyer had been appointed for Lawson. The lawyer, who by a federal magistrate as Lawson’s lawyer told The Associated Press he has not yet retained.
Westerville police officers Eric Joering, 39, and Anthony Morelli, 54, were responding to a hang-up 911 call at Smith’s townhome Saturday when they were shot, police say. Smith was also injured and remained in the hospital.
Westerville police had gone to Smith’s townhome where he lived with his wife, Candace, for domestic disputes three times since September, and the neighbors said that they often fought.
Smith, 30, is charged with two provisional counts of aggravated murder. He can be arraigned on formal charges including the possibility of a death sentence, because the victims were police officers killed in the line of duty, said Franklin County prosecutor Ron O’brien.
Police identify suspect who killed two cops in Ohio
Smith was sentenced to three years in prison in 2009 on a burglary conviction, with an additional improvement of having a gun. He left the prison in 2011 and was released from parole, the so-called community control in Ohio, in November 2013, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.
Municipal court records is not a lawyer for Smith.
The Columbus lawyer who represents Smith and his wife in a bankruptcy case, said that he was shocked by the news. Smith was cooperative, polite and attentive during meetings about his case, the lawyer Mark Shepherd told the AP Monday.
Hundreds watched Monday of the streets and highway overpasses as the officers’ bodies were accompanied to the funeral homes in suburban Westerville, northeast of Columbus.
Joering had a Westerville officer for 17 years; Morelli had been a member of the force for 30 years, Fox News previously reported.
“We are very grateful for our family, friends, and the Westerville community. We feel loved and blessed, and we are grateful for the outpouring of support. We have seen and heard so much from people who have shared stories about how our men affected their life. They are so missed, not only by us, but by everyone they touch,” the families of Morelli and Joering said in a statement to Fox News. “Our men were dedicated officers for sure, but we knew that they are so devoted father and husband. When they were home, they were at home. They left work at work. We are so sad that Eric will not see his three daughters in high school. We are devastated, Tony will not be able to walk his daughter to the altar on her wedding day.”
A charitable fund created for the families of the employees raised more than $270,000 in a day. The GoFundMe site, organized by a central Ohio Fraternal Order of Police chapter was made Saturday, after the fatal shooting.
Monday, Gov. John Kasich ordered flags flown at half staff at the Ohio public properties until the officers are buried.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.