NewsNational News


Two officers killed during active shooter incident at Bridgewater College; suspect in custody

Campus Police Officer John Painter (L) and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson (R).png
Posted at 2:13 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-04 21:08:53-05

A suspect is in custody following a shooting that killed two officers on the campus of Bridgewater College in western Virginia.

The school ordered a "shelter in place" around 1:30 p.m. ET Tuesday, according to the school's Twitter account.

About 40 minutes later, the school said one person has been taken into custody. The school also instructed those on campus to "text to let your loved ones know you are okay."

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin later tweeted that the shooter was the person taken into custody.

The suspect has been identified as 27-year-old Alexander Wyatt Campbell, who had a last known address in Ashland.

Bridgewater sent out a press release saying an initial report stated that two officers had been shot. Later, Virginia State Police said a Bridgewater College Campus Law Enforcement Officer and Campus Safety Officer were shot during this incident.

According to WTVR in Richmond, the two victims have been identified as Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson and Campus Police Officer John Painter. Both died at the scene despite rescue efforts by paramedics and other responding officers.

The Virginia State Police Bureau of Criminal Investigation's Culpeper Field Office is investigating the shooting.

State Police say Jefferson and Painter responded to call for a suspicious adult male on the grounds of Memorial Hall. After a brief interaction with the man, later identified as Campbell, he opened fire and shot both officers. Cambpell then fled on foot.

Immediately after a 911 call, the Bridgewater College Police Department, Town of Bridgewater Police Department, Virginia State Police, Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, City of Harrisonburg Police, Augusta County Sheriff’s Office, Town of Dayton Police Department and the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources Conservation Police responded to the scene and began search efforts across the campus.

Authorities found a man fitting the shooter's description on Riverside Drive in the Town of Bridgewater. He then waded through the river and onto an island in the North River in the town. Harrisonburg Police, Rockingham County Sheriff's Deputies and Virginia State Police Special Agents took Cambpell into custody without further incident.

Campbell was suffering from a non-life threatening gunshot wound. He was then taken to Rockingham Memorial Hospital, where he was treated and released.

State Police is still working to determine if he was shot by the Bridgewater College Police officer or if his injury was self-inflicted.

Authorities recovered multiple firearms associated with Campbell as evidence.

Campbell has been charged with a total of four felonies: Two counts of capital murder, one count of first degree murder and one count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He is being held without bond at the Rockingham County Jail.

State Police are asking anyone who may have video/images or information related to this shooting to share with investigators by emailing them to

The FBI and ATF are assisting with the ongoing criminal investigation.

Bridgewater College is located about an hour's drive northwest of Charlottesville. The school describes itself as a "private liberal arts college" that was founded in 1880. The school says it has an enrollment of about 1,800 students.

The college sent out the following note to the campus community on Tuesday following the incident:

Today our campus community experienced unspeakable tragedy. Two members of the Bridgewater College family were senselessly and violently taken from us. The sadness is palpable. Words are not adequate, not nearly so, to express the grief, sadness, fear and - justifiably - the anger we all feel.

Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson were shot and killed on campus while protecting us. 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.

This is a sad and dark day for Bridgewater College. 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. We are all victims, though some much more so than others, and it will be important that we each seek to find comfort and support in the ways most meaningful for us.
Bridgewater College

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin issued the statement following the incident:

“My heart is broken tonight by the tragic loss of two officers at Bridgewater College today. These officers were dedicated to protecting the students and faculty of the college and I have ordered that the flags of the United States of America and the Commonwealth of Virginia be flown at half-staff tomorrow to honor their memory and courageous efforts. The First Lady and I ask Virginians to keep their family, friends, and the Bridgewater community in your thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.”
Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin

Youngkin has ordered all U.S. and Virginia flags to be flown at half-staff Wednesday in honor of the officers.

State Police say a law enforcement procession returning the fallen officers home from Roanoke will take place along I-81 Thursday around 2 p.m.

Friday, the college released information about funeral arrangements.

Those who would like to donate to the John Painter and Vashon "J.J." Jefferson Memorial Student Support Fund can do so here. Letters of condolence may be sent to:

Chief Milton S. Franklin, Campus and Safety
Bridgewater College
402 East College Street
Bridgewater, Va. 22812

Stay with News 3 for updates.