2 Virginia college officers killed; suspect in custody

Several police officers are shown securing the scene of a shooting at Bridgewater College.
Police secure the scene of a shooting at Bridgewater College in Bridgewater, Va., Tuesday, Feb. 1, 2022.
(Daniel Lin / Associated Press)

A gunman shot and killed two campus officers at a private college Tuesday, prompting a protracted campus lockdown and search before the suspect was apprehended, state police and school officials said.

The lockdown began in the early afternoon when Bridgewater College officials sent out a tweet warning students and faculty members about a shooter on campus.

The college sent out a follow-up tweet about 2 p.m. saying police had apprehended a suspect after searching the campus but that students should continue sheltering in place.


A news photographer captured an image of the apparent suspect being arrested, lying face-down on the ground as more than a half-dozen law enforcement officers approached with guns drawn. The college gave the all-clear about 4:30 p.m.

It wasn’t immediately clear what led up to the shooting. No other injuries were reported.

A statement from school president David W. Bushman identified the two officers as campus police Officer John Painter and campus safety Officer J.J. Jefferson. He said that the campus was mourning the loss of the well-known and well-loved officers. Saying the pair was known as “the dynamic duo,” the statement noted that Painter was the best man at Jefferson’s wedding this year.

“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,” Bushman added.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted that he had been briefed on the situation.

Bridgewater College is a private liberal arts school about 125 miles northwest of Richmond. Historically affiliated with the Church of the Brethren, the school had an enrollment of about 1,500 full-time students in the fall of 2021, according to its website.