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TWO BRIDWATER COLLEGE oFFICIERS sHOT dEAD, sUSPECT cHARGED

BRIDGEWATER — A 27-year-old man has been charged with the killing of a Bridgewater College police officer and a safety officer in a shooting on campus Tuesday afternoon.

Alexander Wyatt Campbell, whose last known address is in Ashland, was taken into custody after a lockdown of the school following the shooting.

Campbell has been charged by VSP with two felony counts of capital murder, one felony count of first degree murder and a felony count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, according to the Virginia State Police.

The charges have been filed after consultation with Marsha Garst, Rockingham County commonwealth’s attorney, and more charges may be forthcoming as the investigation proceeds, according to VSP.

John Painter, former Grottoes police chief of 18 years and Bridgewater campus officer, was killed along with safety officer J.J. Jefferson. Painter stepped down as chief of the Rockingham County town in 2019.

Jefferson was a former Department of Public Safety sergeant at Shenandoah University in Winchester, a position he took on in 2013. He studied at the school between 2012 and 2018, according to a press release from the school.

“These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the ‘dynamic duo,'” Bridgewater College President David Bushman said in an email to students later Tuesday afternoon.

Painter served as Jefferson’s best man at his wedding this year, according to Bushman.

Campbell is being held at the Rockingham County Jail without bond, Corrine Geller, Virginia State Police spokesperson, said in a press conference at Nininger Hall at BC on Tuesday evening.

Law enforcement is still investigating the shooting and a potential motive. Geller asked anyone with information about the incident or videos and photos from the incident to share it with VSP by email through vsphtcs@vsp.virginia.gov. The FBI and Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives are also assisting in the investigation.

“It’s still a very complex and very active investigation,” Geller said.

Geller declined to say if Campbell was a student and also could not provide any information about whether Campbell was under the influence of drugs or alcohol during the incident. Based on available evidence, the shooting was isolated and Campbell is the lone suspect. – Photo – Daniel Lin/The Daily News-Record

In an email sent at 5:04 p.m. to the students and faculty, David Bushman, the president of the college, identified the victims as John Painter, a police officer, and J.J. Jefferson, a campus safety officer. They were often referred to as a “dynamic duo,” Mr. Bushman said. “John was J.J.’s best man in his wedding this year,” he added.

“This is a sad and dark day for Bridgewater College,” Mr. Bushman said. “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.”

The college, which is around 40 miles northwest of Charlottesville, asked those on campus to shelter in place until it issued an all-clear notification at 4:33 p.m. – Daily News-Record

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