Bridgewater College Active Shooter: Two Law Enforcement Officers Killed

police Officers J.J. Jefferson and John Painter

Two law enforcement officers were shot and killed at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Virginia. A suspect is now in custody, the College wrote. It later emerged that a campus law enforcement officer and campus safety officer were both shot, according to Virginia State police.

Authorities did not release their condition.

However, a local journalist reported that the College had confirmed that both officers died. The officers were named as John Painter and J.J. Jefferson.

“In a letter emailed to staff and students, Bridgewater’s President confirms both officers shot today have died. According to the letter, they are Campus Police Officer John Painter & Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson,” reported Mike Valerio, a reporter for WUSA9.

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

Bridgewater College later 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 gave an “all clear.”

The reports of the active shooter came on the afternoon of February 1, 2022. The motive is not yet clear.

“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.

Here’s what you need to know:


A Suspect Is In Custody, the College Says, But People Were Urged to Remain Sheltered

“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,” the college’s president said in the email to students, according to NBC12.

The college tweeted a suspect was in custody, writing, “An individual is in police custody. Situation is still ongoing. Continue to shelter where you are.” Bridgewater College later gave the “all clear.”

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.

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.


The College Urged People to Text Their Loved Ones

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 have not clarified. 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.”

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