Bridgewater college shooting: Two officers killed and alleged shooter identified

Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27, has been identified as the suspected shooter

Josh Marcus
San Francisco
Wednesday 02 February 2022 10:25 GMT
Gun violence involving teens on the rise
Leer en Español

Support truly
independent journalism

Our mission is to deliver unbiased, fact-based reporting that holds power to account and exposes the truth.

Whether $5 or $50, every contribution counts.

Support us to deliver journalism without an agenda.

Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas


Two police officers were killed on Tuesday during a campus shooting Bridgewater College, a private liberal arts school in Virginia.

Campus police officer John Painter and campus safety officer JJ Jefferson were both shot during the incident. Police have captured and charged a suspected shooter after a search involving numerous officers on campus.

“These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the ‘dynamic duo.’ John was JJ’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,” Bridgewater College President David Bushman said in an email to students.

Police have identified Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27, as the suspected shooter. He has been charged with four felonies and is being held without bond in Rockingham County Jail. He arrived in jail with a gun shot wound, which police are investigating to see if it is self-inflicted or from officers.

A photographer from the Harrisonburg Daily News-Record captured the officers approaching the alleged shooter, who lay face-down on the ground in the snow.

Virginia governor Glenn Youngkin said on Tuesday he is following the situation and confirmed the shooter was in custody.

“I have been briefed on the situation at Bridgewater College. The shooter is in custody and state and local police are on the scene,” he wrote on Twitter on Tuesday. “I will continue to monitor the situation in conjunction with law enforcement.”

Students recounted in horror hearing shots ring out. Kai Bowman, 21, was returning from his dorm when the shooting started.

“That’s when my heart stopped,” he told The Washington Post. “I didn’t know whether to run or hide.”

The school first announced there were reports of an active shooter on campus on Tuesday afternoon.

“Reports of active shooter on campus. Shelter in place,” the college said, adding, “This is not a test.”

There was a large police presence surrounding the school’s athletic complex.

The town of Bridgewater, Virginia, temporarily residents to remain where they are.

“Town residents please shelter in place,” it wrote on Facebook. “Active shooter in Bridgewater, and we need everyone to shelter so the officers can do their work and keep everyone as safe as possible.”

Police have set up crime scene tape for an area that spans multiple blocks.

College Avenue, which runs near campus, has been closed to traffic.

One town resident reported seeing a man running away from campus holding a large black duffel bag over his shoulder, before crossing a nearby river. Shortly after, two police officers arrived and did the same, before all three disappeared from view.

“Whatever he had in that bag was very heavy,” Ecliff Graves told the Richmond Times-Dispatch, adding, “I heard one little pop... It sounded like a hand gun. I said, ‘that’s sort of weird.’”

Thank you for registering

Please refresh the page or navigate to another page on the site to be automatically logged inPlease refresh your browser to be logged in