Two campus officers at Bridgewater College in Virginia were fatally shot by a gunman on Tuesday after they responded to reports of a suspicious person near a campus building.
Officers John Painter and J.J. Jefferson responded to a call about a “suspicious male individual” on the grounds of Memorial Hall at Bridgewater College. The assailant, identified as Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27, opened fire after a brief interaction with the officers. Painter and Jefferson died on campus.
Virginia State Police found Campbell on Riverside Drive off-campus in Bridgewater after a “massive search operation” involving local, state, and federal law enforcement.
“These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the “dynamic duo,” President David Bushman told the bereaved Bridgewater community. “John was J.J.’s best man in his wedding this year. They were beloved by students, faculty, and staff. I hurt for their families and loved ones, as I know we all do.”
A tragic day in Virginia at Bridgewater College where campus Police Officer John Painter and civilian Safety Officer JJ Jefferson were shot and killed by a gunman who opened fire as they approached him. In their ultimate sacrifice, these brave men likely saved lives. #NeverForget pic.twitter.com/oy160jqQIE
— Bill Bratton (@CommissBratton) February 2, 2022
Campbell fled on foot and had a non-life-threatening gunshot wound when he was apprehended. Law enforcement officials are still working to determine whether the wound was self-inflicted or a result of the altercation.
He was treated at a hospital after his arrest, after which the police took him to Rockingham County Regional Jail.
Police have recovered “multiple firearms” from Campbell, Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said. He is charged with two felony counts of capital murder, one felony count of first-degree murder, and one felony charge of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
“This is a sad and dark day for Bridgewater College,” Bushman said. “I know we all have so many questions and not many answers. One thing I do know, though, is that we will rally around one another and support each other as we move forward from this day.”