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Shooter kills two Bridgewater College campus officers

Bridegwater Active Shooter Scene 1.jpg
Randi B. Hagi
Police on the scene outside Memorial Hall and Flory Hall on the campus of Bridgewater College

Bridgewater College said a gunman shot and killed two campus safety officers Tuesday afternoon. Police arrested a suspect around 2pm near the campus. The college issued an "all-clear" notification around 4:30pm.

Virginia State Police identified the suspect Tuesday night as Alexander Wyatt Campbell, age 27. His last known address is in Ashland, Virginia. He has been charged with four felonies: two counts of felony capital murder, one count of felony first-degree murder, and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. Campbell is being held without bond at Rockingham County Jail. Police said a motive for the shootings is under investigation.

At 1:24pm Tuesday, February 1, Bridgewater College issued a shelter in place alert with reports of an active shooter. State and local law enforcement agencies responded and arrested a suspect around 2pm.

According to a college email to students, faculty and staff, "Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson were shot and killed."

BC President David Bushman said in a statement, "These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the 'dynamic duo.' 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."

College officials say grief counseling and other forms of support will be provided to students and staff. They said classes will be canceled on Wednesday, Feb. 2.

Statement released at 4:30pm from Bridgewater College:

"At approximately 1:20 p.m. Feb. 1, 2022, the Bridgewater College Police Department, Town of Bridgewater Police Department, Virginia State Police, Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, City of Harrisonburg Police, Augusta Sheriff’s Office, Town of Dayton Police Department, FBI, and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries responded to a report of an active shooter on the Bridgewater College campus. The initial report came in that two officers had been shot and the armed suspect had fled the scene. State and local law enforcement immediately responded to the campus and initiated a massive search operation for the suspect. By 1:55 p.m., the male shooter was taken into police custody."

We will update with more details as they become available.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.
Bob Leweke is WMRA's News Director and Morning Edition host.