Westerville, OH – A man was charged with providing the weapon to the gunman who fatally shot two veteran Westerville police officers on Feb. 10.
Smith gave Lawson the money to buy the .40 caliber Glock handgun, as well as an extra $100 for making it happen, according to the criminal complaint filed in federal court.
Because he is a convicted felon, Smith was prohibited by law from owning a firearm.
Police said that Lawson and Smith were old friends, and Lawson was well aware that Smith was not allowed to have a weapon.
Tips, social media posts and a gun trace led authorities to Lawson, according to Ronald Herndon, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Firearms, Tobacco and Explosives.
Lawson was charged with aiding and abetting the possession of a firearm by a prohibited person, according to the Cleveland Plain Dealer. The charge carries a penalty of up to 10 years in federal prison.
“Had he not received the firearm from this person, who knows where we would be today,” U.S. Attorney Ben Glassman said after Lawson's first court appearance, according to the Cincinnati Enquirer. The courtroom was filled with dozens of officers from Westerville and central Ohio.
Westerville Police Officers Eric Joering and Anthony Morelli were responding to a hang-up 911 call at Smith’s residence when Smith opened fire on them.
Officers fired back, and Smith was hit.
The officers were killed.
He was charged with two preliminary counts of aggravated murder and could face the death penalty because the two victims were police officers killed in the line of duty, according to Franklin County Prosecutor Ron O’Brien.
Smith was sentenced to three years in prison for burglary in 2009 with an added enhancement of having a gun, Fox News reported.
He was paroled in 2011, and released from parole in 2013, according to the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Correction.