Alexander Wyatt Campbell: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

alexander wyatt campbell mugshot

Rockingham County Jail Alexander Wyatt Campbell pictured in his mugshot.

Alexander Wyatt Campbell, a former student who once ran on the track-and-field team, was named as the active shooter suspect who is accused of murdering two well-liked law enforcement officers on the campus of Bridgewater College in Virginia.

The slain officers, John Painter and J.J. Jefferson, were remembered as heroes who were so close that Painter served as best man in Jefferson’s recent wedding. Virginia state police released Campbell’s name in a news conference on the evening of February 1, 2022, and the campus president released the names of the officers.

Campbell is 27 years old, authorities revealed in the news conference. The motive remains unclear. Campbell is incarcerated in the Rockingham County Jail.

“This is a sad and dark day for Bridgewater College,” the college president said in a statement. It continued:

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.

policeOfficers J.J. Jefferson and John Painter

Painter was a campus law enforcement officer and Jefferson was a campus safety officer, according to Virginia State police.

Here’s what you need to know:

1. Police Say Campbell ‘Opened Fire & Shot Both Officers’ When They Responded to a Call for a ‘Suspicious Male Individual’

alexander wyatt campbell

FacebookAlexander Wyatt Campbell.

Virginia State Police said in the news conference that the February 1, 2022, active shooter incident began at around 1:20 p.m. when the two officers responded to a call for a suspicious male individual located on the grounds of Memorial Hall on campus. They identified that male suspect as Campbell.

After a brief interaction, the suspect opened fire and shot both officers, police said. He then fled on foot. A massive law enforcement response occurred. A man fitting the shooter’s condition waded through a river and onto an island. Campbell was taken into custody.

For hours, details were vague, but the campus was told quickly that there was an active shooter on campus.

“Reports of active shooter on campus. Shelter in place,” Bridgewater College tweeted in one of its first alerts.

Bridgewater College gave additional details:

Around 1:20 p.m. Feb. 1 Bridgewater College Police, Town of Bridgewater Police, @VSPPIO, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, @HarrisonburgPD, Augusta Sheriff’s Office, Town of Dayton Police, FBI & @VirginiaDWR, responded to a report of an active shooter on BC’s campus. Initial reports came in that 2 officers had been shot & the armed suspect had fled. State & local law enforcement immediately responded and initiated a massive search operation for the suspect. By 1:55 p.m. the male shooter was taken into custody. Investigation ongoing.

The college later gave an “all clear.”

2. Authorities Say Multiple Firearms Associated With Campbell, Who Was Shot, Were Recovered

Campbell has a non-life-threatening gunshot wound. Authorities are still working to determine whether he was shot by a Bridgewater College police officer or shot himself, authorities said in the news conference.

Multiple firearms associated with Campbell were recovered. His last known address was Ashland, Virginia. He was charged with four felonies, including two counts of capital murder.

The weapons were recovered both on and off campus, authorities said.

“He was in a location he shouldn’t have been,” a Virginia State Police official said in the news conference. Some campus employees noticed Campbell and startled him and the officers responded to that location, she said.

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

3. Campbell Was a ‘Stand-Out’ on the Bridgewater Track Team in the Past

According to Curt Autry, a journalist with NBC12, Campbell was a former student “who was once a stand-out on the Bridgewater’s track team.”

Autry also reported that Campbell, an Ashland, Virginia, native, “ran track at Patrick Henry High School, and graduated there in 2013.”

He earned a record in high school for the season in the 5,000 meters race, according to

The college tweeted that the suspect was in custody, writing, “An individual is in police custody.”

The college’s website was down but then went back up. It also contained the series of emergency alerts. The first report of an active shooter on campus came just after 1:24. Just after a minute later, the college posted this message: “This is not a test. More info to follow.” The website touts Bridgewater as the “safest college” in Virginia.

4. The Officers Were Remembered as the ‘Dynamic Duo’

A statement posted on Facebook by Bridgewater College President David Bushman said the two officers were very close friends:

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.

Painter had a long career in law enforcement. According to LinkedIn, Painter was chief of police for the Town of Grottoes for years. Before that, he served as a police sergeant and officer for the Grottoes force. He was also formerly a police officer for Elton Police. The Daily News Record reported that Painter retired from the Grottoes position in 2019. Bridgewater’s directory lists his current title as campus police officer at the college.

A tribute posted to Facebook read,

It is with a heavy heart I, like many, share this post in memory of a great man, friend, co-worker, and more notable, a great law man. Chief John Painter gave his time and loyalty to the Town of Grottoes, and gave his LIFE to serve and protect the students and citizens of Bridgewater. These are but a few of many memories I would like to share and will always treasure.

Before the suspect was in custody, the college wrote, “Situation is ongoing. We are communicating with authorities. Will update. Text to let your loved ones know you are okay.”

People wrote on the College’s tweet. “My kid is there, was at the office where incident happened. He said 1 person w gun who ran. Another person believe to be a bystander was tackled by police. Info is sketchy -still locked down,” a person wrote. That information was not verified by authorities.

“Hello my Son texted me about a active shooter on the campus of Bridgewater College in Bridgewater Va.,” a woman tweeted at a news outlet. There were conflicting reports on social media about whether there was only one shooter, but authorities later said they believe Campbell acted alone. It is common in fast-breaking active shooter incidents for early information to conflict or even be wrong.

A woman tweeted, “I’ve spent the last hour messaging with dear friends & former colleagues at Bridgewater College (my first job), who have been sheltering in place due to an active shooter on campus. I don’t even have the words anymore to say how much this isn’t normal. Except that here, it is.”

5. Campbell Lost His Father at a Young Age

Campbell lost his father young. An obituary for Campbell’s father from 2009 says the dad died after a “long battle with brain cancer.” He was survived by his wife and three sons, including Alexander.

Mark Warner, U.S. senator from Virginia, tweeted, “Continuing to closely monitor the situation at Bridgewater College and am grateful for the efforts of first responders already on the scene. Praying for all involved.”

Harrisonburg, Virginia’s Twitter page tweeted, “The Harrisonburg Police Department is currently assisting with an active law enforcement scene in the town of Bridgewater. Please do not travel to Bridgewater at this time until the situation comes to a close. To any of our followers in Bridgewater, please shelter in place.” The page also confirmed that a suspect was in custody.

READ NEXT: Remembering Slain Officer J.J. Jefferson.