2 Officers Shot Dead at Virginia College

Bridgewater shooting suspect Alexander Campbell is in custody
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 1, 2022 8:26 PM CST
2 Officers Shot Dead at Virginia College
Police conduct an investigation following a shooting at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.   (Daniel Lin/Daily News-Record via AP)

"This is a sad and dark day for Bridgewater College," David Bushman, the college's president, said in an email to students, faculty, and staff after two campus officers were fatally shot on Tuesday. Police say that after a "massive search operation, the suspected gunman was taken into custody at 1:55pm, around 35 minutes after the shooting, NBC reports. Students at the private liberal arts college were locked down until an all-clear was issued around 4:30pm. The college is in Bridgewater, Virginia, around 140 miles west of Washington DC and 40 miles northwest of Charlottesville. Officials say Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27, has been charged with four felonies including two counts of capital murder, reports WJLA.

Campbell is being held without bail at the Rockingham County Jail. Police say he opened fire after a brief interaction with the officers, who were responding to a report of a suspicious person. The slain officers were named as campus safety officer J.J. Jefferson and police officer John Painter. "These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the 'dynamic duo,'" Bushman said. "John was J.J.’s best man in his wedding this year. They were beloved by students, faculty, and staff." Jefferson's mother tells the Washington Post that he turned 48 on Saturday. "I loved my son, and he loved us," she says. "He went beyond to help people."

Bridgewater student Alex Hulleman, 21, tells the New York Times that he was in class when he heard the gunshots. He says students immediately dropped to the floor, with two sitting against the door while the professor called 911. He says students were stunned when they found out the two officers had been killed. Jefferson and Painter were "two of the nicest people on campus," he says. In a statement, Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin said his "heart is broken" by the "tragic loss" of the two officers and flags at state buildings will be flown at half-staff Wednesday. (More Virginia stories.)

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