Fallen officer’s K9 partner attends vigil in Centerburg

K9 Sam was in the back of Officer Joering’s police cruiser during the shooting. He wasn’t hurt

So many people have asked about Officer Eric Joering’s K9 partner, Sam, wondering how he is doing.

CENTERBURG, OH (WCMH) – So many people have asked about Officer Eric Joering’s K9 partner, Sam, wondering how he is doing.

NBC4 has learned Sam was in the back of Officer Joering’s police cruiser during the shooting. He wasn’t hurt.

Sam’s original trainer got him from the shooting scene that day. He says Sam was scared and shaken up.

Despite being off duty, Sam is still helping people.

Dozens of people packed a firehouse in Centerburg Monday in honor of Officer Joering, including his wife, three girls and Sam.

Mike Pennington, Sam’s original trainer, says Sam is hurting. Despite his pain, he has traded in his K9 badge for the title of therapy dog, bringing comfort to Officer Joering’s children.

A vigil in Centerburg Monday night was all about sharing memories of Officer Joering and remembering the family he left behind.

“Our concern right now is the family making sure that the family wants for nothing,” said Westerville Police Cpl. Aaron Dickison.

Joering was a mentor to Dickison.

“Me and Eric met the day before, Friday,” said Dickison “Eric made the ultimate sacrifice and had to make sure I was prepared to do the same thing.”

Dickison said Joering was born to be a police officer and died doing what he loved.

“I’m telling you he didn’t think twice he acted and he saved people’s lives that day and people need to remember that,” said Dickison.

Sam is currently staying with his original training partner. He says he’s doing okay, but his heart is broken too.

Ultimately, Officer Joering’s family can choose to keep the dog.

Officer Eric Joering, 39, and his collegue, Anthony Morelli, 54, were shot and killed after responding to a “potential domestic situation” Saturday night. A neighbor who heard the gunfire said it happened at a home where the occupants were “always arguing and fighting.”

The Westerville Division of Police has identified the suspect in the shooting as 30-year-old Quentin Lamar Smith.

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