Two Campus Officers Killed in Shooting at Bridgewater College

A police officer and a campus safety officer were killed on the afternoon of Tuesday, Feb. 1, when a suspect opened fire on the campus of Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va. According to Fox News, the officers were responding to a report of a suspicious person near an academic building when the suspect shot and killed both of them.

CNN reports that officers responded to the call at about 1:20 p.m. local time. Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said officers had a brief interaction with the suspect, who suddenly shot them and ran away.

The suspect fled but was apprehended on an island in the North River less than an hour later. Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27, faces four felony charges: two counts of capital murder, one count of first-degree murder and one count of use of a firearm in a felony. The Washington Post reports that Campbell was hospitalized for treatment of a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. He was then taken to Rockingham County Jail and is being held without bond.

The college has identified the two slain officers as campus police officer John Painter, 55, and safety officer J.J. Jefferson, 48.

“These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the ‘dynamic duo,’” wrote Bridgewater College President David Bushman in a letter to the school 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.”

After the shooting, the college issued a shelter-in-place order as police searched and cleared campus buildings. The order was lifted after about three hours. Law enforcement discovered multiple guns on the campus as they retraced the suspect’s steps, Fox News reports.

No other injuries were reported. Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered that flags be flown at half-staff on Wednesday, Feb. 2, to honor the fallen officers.

About the Author

Matt Jones is senior editor of Spaces4Learning and Campus Security and Life Safety. He can be reached at


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