Massillon friends remember Westerville police officer Tony Morelli

WESTERVILLE, OH (WOIO) - There was a somber procession Monday to carry the bodies of two officers, killed in the line of duty.

The trail of police cruisers and ambulances followed the hearse from the Franklin County Coroner's Officer to two different funeral homes.

Tony Morelli was just doing his job on Saturday when he and a fellow officer, Eric Joering, were shot and killed in Westerville.

Morelli's friends say he loved his job, and had no plans on retiring, even though he was eligible.

"He could have retired, but he didn't because he loved what he did," said friend David Chovan.

Morelli and Chovan both served as each other's best man in their weddings.

It was Chovan and his wife who introduced Morelli and his wife, Linda.

"Through junior high and high school we were pretty inseparable. We would hang out at each other's homes a lot," Chovan said.

They also played football together at Massillon Washington High School, under Coach Michael Currence.

"It's a tragedy.  We're not supposed to lose our players, they aren't supposed to proceed us in death," Currence said on the phone from his home in Arizona.

Currence was emotional as he talked about the kid he watched grow up to become a compassionate man.

"He was so well-liked. Everybody liked Tony. He was a hard-nosed player. He would do anything for you," Currence said.

Chovan says he's sad and frustrated to lose a friend so violently, but will remember him with warm thoughts.

"His smile and laughter. He enjoyed life. He enjoyed people," Chovan said.

The following is a statement released Monday by the families of the fallen officers:

"We're very thankful for our family, friends and the Westerville community. We feel loved and blessed, and we are appreciative of the outpouring of support. We have seen and heard so much from people who have shared stories about how our men impacted their lives. They will be so greatly missed, not only by us, but by everyone they touched.

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