Businesses working to help Westerville community heal
It’s been an emotional few days for people in the city of Westerville. This is the first time they have had an officer killed in the line of duty. Let alone two who were respected and loved across the community.
You see blue ribbons all over the city. Many of them were made at local flower shop Flowerama. Owner Steve Ozment said he was honored to use the big marquis in front of his business to remember the officers who were both customers.
Ozment said he donated some wreaths and a blanket for the memorial to the officers. “This is obviously Valentine’s Day and it’s our busiest week of the year. And there are things that are more important than Valentine’s day,” said Ozment as he became emotional at the thought.
The police procession Tuesday brought the officers’ bodies right past the florist shop and back to the city. Ozment hopes they were comforted by the signs, bows, and show of support from people along the route to the funeral homes.
“I think it means that a lot of people care we are a kind of big city but such a small town atmosphere,” said Ozment. “So many people have reached out to try and help heal and I think it’s working. It’s going to take a long time, but it’s working.”
At Yogi’s Hoagies, owner Sue Shields, 80 said he knew both officers Joering and Morelli. When she saw the cruisers rushing to the shooting scene, Shields knew something terrible had happened. “It’s just horrific. I just feel so bad and so sad,” said Shields, who has served sandwiches in Westerville for 26 years.
Shields recalled when she robbed at gunpoint a few years back how kind officer Morelli was to her. “He was one of the police officers who held my hand because I was hysterical.”
Shields is sending the Westerville officers sandwiches as they grieve thanks to a customer who wants to help. She is also donating cards for police to come by later for one of her famous Yogi’s Hoagies.
The shop decorated with Buckeye memorabilia and photos, the down-home feel is beloved by customers. Shields said she hopes the outpouring of love and hope will help the families and friends who are hurting. “We have come together as a community. We need to stay that way. It can’t something we are doing just this week.”