Bridgewater, VA – Two police officers were fatally shot during an active shooting incident at Bridgewater College on Tuesday afternoon.
The incident began at about 1:24 p.m. on Feb. 1 when an active shooter was reported on the campus of small southwestern Virginia college, the Staunton News Leader reported.
School officials posted reports of the active shooter to social media and ordered students and staff to “shelter in place.”
Radio transmissions between first responders at about 1:46 p.m. indicated that two officers had been shot, the Staunton News Leader reported.
Bridgewater College scanner said two officers down https://t.co/uQXYPf9lcf
— Powerofwoman (@Torilv13) February 1, 2022
Officers reported the suspect was in the area of East Main Street at the time.
State and local law enforcement descended on the campus and initiated a massive search for the suspect.
The next social media alert went out at 2:08 p.m. and said that a suspect had been taken into custody, but said that the situation was still ongoing and everyone should continue to shelter in place while law enforcement officers conducted a sweep of campus buildings, the Staunton Herald Leader reported.
An individual is in police custody. Situation is still ongoing. Continue to shelter where you are.
— Bridgewater College (@BridgewaterNews) February 1, 2022
“For additional safety purposes, law enforcement officials will be moving through buildings. Do not be alarmed. Listen to officers’ instructions,” one tweet read.
Virginia State Police confirmed that a Bridgewater College police officer and campus safety officer had been killed late on Tuesday afternoon, WWBT reported.
Bridgewater College announced the tragic news in an email to students and staff that identified the fallen heroes as Bridgewater College Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson.
“These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the ‘dynamic duo,” Bridgewater College President David Bushman wrote. “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.”
“This is a sad and dark day for Bridgewater College,” Bushman 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.”
Officials have not released the identity of the gunman, nor have they said what motive he had for killing the two police officers.
Virginia State Police were heading up the investigation with the assistance of the Harrisonburg Police Department, WWBT reported.
Bridgewater College was ranked the safest college in Virginia in October of 2021 by SafeAtLast.
We are beyond devastated to hear about the tragedy that took place at Bridgewater College earlier today.
Please join us in remembering the lives of J.J. Jefferson and John Painter, who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect the campus and students they so dearly loved.
— Springfield Democrats (@Springfield_Dem) February 1, 2022
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