Skip to main content
Press Release

Northeast Ohio Man Sentenced to 5 Years for Buying Gun for Convicted Felon who Killed Westerville Police Officers

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Southern District of Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gerald A. Lawson III, 31, of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, was sentenced in U.S. District Court to 60 months in prison for acting as a straw purchaser for Quentin L. Smith, a convicted felon who shot and killed two Westerville Police Officers on February 10, 2018.

Benjamin C. Glassman, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, and Trevor Velinor, Special Agent in Charge, Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF) announced the sentence imposed today by Chief U.S. District Judge Edmund A. Sargus, Jr.

According to court documents, when Westerville Police Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering responded to a domestic disturbance call on Cross Wind Drive in Westerville on February 10, Smith was armed with a Glock semi-automatic handgun.

As a convicted felon, Smith is prohibited from purchasing or possessing a firearm.

Smith provided Lawson, a longtime friend, money for the firearm and an extra $100 to compensate Lawson – who knew Smith had been convicted of a felony burglary offense and domestic violence – for buying the gun for him.

On May 18, 2017, Lawson purchased the Glock handgun at Stonewall Gun Shop and Pistol Range in Broadview Heights, Ohio. When purchasing the handgun, he lied on an ATF Firearms Transaction Record Form and said he was not acquiring it on behalf of another person.

Lawson pleaded guilty in May 2018 to aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person.

“As a result of his prior convictions, Smith should never had access to the firearm he used to kill Officers Joering and Morelli,” U.S. Attorney Glassman said. “Lawson knew that Smith had a violent past, including a history of domestic violence, that prohibited Smith from purchasing a firearm, and Lawson chose to arm him with a deadly handgun anyway. To be clear, Lawson did not kill the officers. Smith did. But Lawson is responsible for putting a gun in Smith’s hands, and his sentence today reflects that responsibility.”

U.S. Attorney Glassman added, “More broadly, felons should not have access to guns. Straw purchasing must stop.”

U.S. Attorney Glassman commended the investigation of this case by ATF, and Assistant United States Attorney Noah R. Litton, who is prosecuting the case.

# # #

Updated October 18, 2018

Firearms Offenses