DOJ Seal

Department of Justice

U.S. Attorney's Office
Southern District of Ohio

For Immediate Release

Monday, February 12, 2018
Benjamin C. Glassman
, United States Attorney
Contact: Jennifer Thornton

Northeast Ohio Man Charged with Buying Gun for Convicted Felon who Killed Westerville Police Officers

COLUMBUS, Ohio – Gerald A. Lawson III, 30, of Warrensville Heights, Ohio, was charged by criminal complaint for allegedly acting as a straw purchaser for Quentin L. Smith, a convicted felon who shot and killed two Westerville Police Officers on February 10.

Lawson was charged with aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person. He was arrested today by federal agents and is scheduled to appear before U.S. Magistrate Judge Kimberly A. Jolson today at 3:30pm.

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 charges.

According to the affidavit filed in support of the complaint, when Westerville Police Officers Anthony Morelli and Eric Joering responded to a disturbance call on Cross Wind Drive in Westerville, Smith was armed with a Glock semi-automatic handgun.

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

An undisclosed witness told investigators Smith provided Lawson money for the firearm and an extra $100 to compensate Lawson – who knew Smith had been convicted of a felony – for buying the gun for him.

Investigators learned that Lawson and Smith have a long history of friendship. A review of Lawson’s social media account after the incident on February 10 revealed a post by Lawson displaying three photographs of both of the men together. A comment by Lawson associated with the post also referenced the long-standing friendship between the two.

Firearm trace results indicate the Glock firearm was purchased by Lawson in Broadview Heights, Ohio.

Aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person is a federal crime punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

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.

A criminal complaint merely contains allegations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty in a court of law.

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Columbus Field Division