‘He was the real deal:’ Massillon friends describe slain Westerville police officer

MASSILLON, OH – News spread through the Massillon Washington High School alumni Saturday about one of their own killed in the line of duty. Westerville Police Officer Anthony Morelli was shot as he responded to a 911 hang-up call from a domestic violence situation Saturday morning.

Morelli, who is known by most in his hometown as Tony, grew up in Massillon, went to school there and played football. He was a husband and a father to two children, a boy and a girl.

Dan Ricker and Tony Mastrianni both knew Morelli since junior high. They lived within a mile of him as kids, and played football together.

“He was scrappy. He was tenacious, smart, cunning - but at the same time, you know, he was this really kind, shy, just a compassionate good guy,” said Mastrianni.

The three had recently seen each other at their 35-year high school reunion.

“He was happy. He was fun to be around and that’s probably why we kept together in the years after high school and, you know, 30 some years later. It was like yesterday when we were back in high school having our good times,” Ricker said.

Ricker and Mastrianni say Morelli didn’t like the spotlight but was a hero.

“Tony wasn’t a vocal person, but he was a person that led by example. When he put his mind to do something he did it,” said Ricker.

Ricker was with Morelli not too long ago and said he asked him when he was going to retire.

“He said, ‘I don’t want to retire. I love my job; I love going to work every day.’ That’s what he did. He loved it, and Tony loved life,” Ricker said.