Memorial service for slain Bridgewater College officers calls for unity

Memorial service for slain Bridgewater College officers calls for unity
Posted at 6:10 AM, Feb 08, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-08 06:10:28-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- The theme was unity and prayer at Monroe Park on VCU's campus Monday night, with the governor, lieutenant governor and attorney general asking Virginians to come together and pray for the officers killed last week at Bridgewater College.

“There's an ill wind flowing through our nation and Commonwealth,” said Lt. Gov. Winsome Sears. “There's a wickedness about it, and we have to get together and love each other again."

Officer John Painter,55, and officer J.J. Jefferson, 48, were brothers in arms, who Gov. Glenn Youngkin said, "ran towards danger. Not away from it."

The slain officers were also brothers in life — with Painter being the best man at Jefferson’s wedding this year.

2 officers killed; 1 person in custody at Bridgewater College
Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson (left) and Campus Police Officer John Painter (right) have been identified as the victims in a shooting at Bridgewater College on Tuesday, February 1.

"We remember these friends and incredible officers,” said Attorney General Jason Miyares. “These quiet heroes."

Crime Insider sources said that the man arrested for their murders, now identified as Alexander Wyatt Campbell, was squatting on campus.

"I haven’t really been keeping up with the news, but this has opened my eyes, you know,” said VCU sophomore, Ethan Ternan. “It’s a shame what has happened, but I’m glad the governor is here paying his respects."

Unity, faith and love were three words heard over and over during the vigil.

"Prayer is what we need, but we also need action, and faith without works is dead,” said J.J. Minor, president of the Richmond chapter of the NAACP.

Another message faith leaders wanted students and parents to hear is an end to two words that cause enormous anxiety: "active shooter."

"My prayer is no parent gets that call,” said Rev. Joe Ellison. “We’ve seen too many here in the Commonwealth and across the country."

Those at Monday's memorial service said, in a country that seems divided, peace and compassion are a big part of the healing process.

"God, you can blow your wind of unity across the aisle of blue and red and bring this country together," said Ellison.

CBS 6 also learned that a joint funeral service will be held for the two slain officers. The service for Painter and Jefferson will be held on Wednesday at 11 a.m. at James Madison University, which is just about 20 minutes north of Bridgewater.

The memorial service will be open to the public.