Johnstown, OH – The owner of a barbecue joint issued a public apology on Wednesday, after he posted an offensive comment regarding the murders of Westerville Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli.
The heroic officers were shot and killed on Feb. 10, when they responded to a 911 hang-up call as their shift was coming to a close.
“Do I really have to watch a split screen of Pebble Beach golf for a couple of cops that were killed hours ago in a suburb?” Route 62 BBQ owner Brad Jalovec tweeted a short while later, as news of the hero’s deaths was publicized.
Jalovec and Route 62 BBQ’s now-deleted social media accounts were soon flooded with negative comments – backlash that Johnstown Village Manager Jim Lenner took very seriously.
“It has been brought to my attention that a Johnstown business owner made a vile comment about the murder of two Westerville police officers on social media,” Lenner posted on his village Facebook page on Tuesday. “The two officers that lost their lives were dads and fathers. Human beings. All they wanted to do is finish their shift and go home to their family.”
“Although everyone has the right to free speech, one must accept the consequences when exercising that right,” Lenner continued. “In no way do the comments made by one business owner reflect the opinions of others in our community.”
After the backlash, Route 62 BBQ took down their Facebook page.
In a Wednesday interview with WSYX, Jalovec said that he “just said something off the cuff more along the lines of how frustrated I was to once again come in and see a tragedy developing on live television.”
"I made a post that was pretty insensitive," Jalovec said. "I own that completely and there's no excuse for it whatsoever."
"It was totally inappropriate for me to react in that fashion. However, that post does not represent who I am by any means,” he said.
Jalovec told WSYX that he plans to make a donation to the fallen officers’ Go Fund Me accounts, and admitted that it was the least he could do.
Although Jalovec said that he believed his restaurant will survive the negative effects of his callous statement, many Johnstown residents told WSYX that they would never go back to Route 62 BBQ.
"This man has the opportunity to have the business that he has because police officers do what they do in making us safe," former restaurant patron Ken Grimes said. "I've not been for a while but now, no. No reason to, I can go elsewhere."