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2 campus officers killed in Bridgewater College shooting, man in custody, school president says

The college, located in Rockingham County, was ordered to shelter in place for several hours Tuesday after the two officers were shot.

BRIDGEWATER, Va. — Two campus safety officers were shot and killed at Bridgewater College Tuesday, according to an email sent to students and staff by Bridgewater President David Bushman. Authorities say a man connected with the shooting is in police custody. 

The college, located in Rockingham County, was ordered to shelter in place for several hours Tuesday after Officer John Painter, 55, and Officer J.J. Jefferson, 48, were shot. 

According to a statement issued by Virginia State Police and Bridgewater, an armed man was taken into custody in less than 40 minutes. The shelter in place order, issued at 1:20 p.m., remained in place until 4:30 p.m. while multiple law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, investigated. The school has since issued an "all clear."

In a press conference Tuesday evening, Corinne Geller, a spokesperson for VSP, said a campus police officer and a campus safety officer went to help after employees found 27-year-old Alexander Wyatt Campbell—who police say is the shooter—in an area he wasn't supposed to be in. 

Geller said that Campbell ran from the officers and later opened fire, shooting both officers. 

Police from various jurisdictions and departments arrived on the scene to help search for Campbell. Geller said Campbell was found on Riverside Drive before he waded through a river to a nearby island in the north river. Officers crossed the river and took him into custody.

Campbell was shot at some point but is expected to recover. Geller said it is unclear if Cambell shot himself or was shot by one of the officers. He was taken to a nearby hospital for treatment and has since been released.

Geller claims multiple firearms connected to Campbell have been taken following the shooting. She said the firearms were found both on and off-campus. 

Campbell is now facing four felonies: two felony counts of capital murder, one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony. He will be arraigned on the felony charges Wednesday. 

Officer Painter and Officer Vashon were transported Tuesday to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy. 

The motive for the shooting is still not known at this time. VSP is not looking for any other suspects connected to the shooting.

Police said those on campus and within the town of Bridgewater can expect to see Virginia State Police personnel returning to the area Wednesday to continue their investigation. They are on scene retracing the shooter's movements from the time the shooting occurred on the campus to his apprehension on the island in the North River. 

Anyone with information or may have photos and video of the incident is asked to contact VSP at VSPHTCS@VSP.virginia.gov.

Credit: Virginia State Police
Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered flags to be flown at half-staff at all local, state and federal buildings in honor of the two fallen officers.

"Today our campus community experienced unspeakable tragedy," President Bushman said in a tweet Tuesday night. "Two members of the Bridgewater College family were senselessly and violently taken from 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."

The shooting came several hours after bomb threats were reported at three historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in the DMV Tuesday morning. Morgan State University, Howard University and the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) were all on high alert Tuesday after bomb threats were reported at their schools.

At least six HBCUs received bomb threats Monday morning — including Bowie State University and Howard University on Monday.

There is no known connection between the Bridgewater shooting and the bomb threats made against HBCUs this week. 

RELATED: Bomb threats reported at Howard University, Morgan State & UDC

RELATED: Bomb threats at multiple HBCUs including Bowie State, Howard University

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