Bridgewater College unifies in song to honor fallen officers

Bridgewater College Students Singing.jpg
Posted at 12:18 PM, Feb 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-02 12:49:55-05

BRIDGEWATER, Va. — Using music against hate and anger. That’s how Bridgewater College Music Department Chair Christine Carrillo described a Wednesday morning gathering on campus.

Her team quickly assembled dozens of students, professors and members of the community less than 24 hours after two college officers were shot and killed.

“The whole purpose of this morning is trying to find a way to bring music towards healing,” Carrillo explained.

They sang the school’s song, Bridgewater Fair, to honor 48-year-old Campus Safety Officer Vashon “JJ” Jefferson and 55-year-old Campus Police Officer John E. Painter.

“Those two men were such an intricate part of the community and helped us feel safe,” Carrillo stated. “Being that they have saved so many people and touched so many people...I’m without words. It really is so heartbreaking.”

This event was an opportunity for the community to come together for the first time since the shooting.

"This is not something I would ever expect from this community," Carrillo stated. "We all know each other. We all love each other. It’s really, really hurtful that this was brought on to our campus."

Virginia State Police said the officers responded to a call for a suspicious man near Memorial Hall just before 1:30 p.m. Tuesday.

After a brief interaction, they said the suspect shot both officers and ran away. Law enforcement eventually caught up with the suspect, who was identified as 27-year-old Alexander Wyatt Campbell from Ashland.

A school spokesperson confirmed Campbell attended Bridgewater College from 2013 until 2017 and was a member of the track and cross-country teams.

Police have charged him with four felonies, including two counts of capital murder.

Campbell was scheduled to appear in front of a judge at 1 p.m. Wednesday at the Harrisonburg/Rockingham County General District Court.

State Police have not released a possible motive.

The officers’ bodies were transported on Tuesday to the Office of the Medical Examiner in Roanoke for examination and autopsy.



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