A campus law enforcement officer and a campus safety officer at Virginia's Bridgewater College were shot and killed on Tuesday, according to the school. The alleged shooter is in custody, Virginia State Police said.
The school identified the two victims as campus safety officer J.J. Jefferson and campus police officer John Painter.
"Today our campus community experienced unspeakable tragedy. Two members of the Bridgewater College family were senselessly and violently taken from us," the school wrote in an email to students and faculty. "The sadness is palpable. Words are not adequate, not nearly so, to express the grief, sadness, fear and — justifiably — the anger we all feel."
According to the school, the two men were good friends, with Painter even serving as Jefferson's best man at his wedding this year.
President Biden tweeted Tuesday night that, "Another senseless shooting has taken the lives of two brave officers. Jill and I are praying for the families of those lost. Gun violence against law enforcement officers is sickening, and it must end."
Police on Tuesday night identified the suspect as Alexander Wyatt Campbell, 27, of Ashland, Virginia. He has been charged with four felonies: two counts of capital murder, one count of first degree murder and one weapons charge. Police and school officials would not comment on any relationship the suspect may have had with the school. Police said they have also recovered "multiple firearms associated with Campbell."
Police spokesperson Corrine Geller said that Campbell was reported to campus security for suspicious activity because he was "in a location he should not have been." The two officers approached him and, after a brief interaction, he shot at both officers, Geller said.
Painter was armed, but Jefferson was not, according to Bridgewater College President David Bushman.
Campbell fled the campus on foot and tried to escape to an island in Bridgewater by wading through a river, Geller said. Officers tracked him to the island, where he was taken into custody. In a statement Tuesday night, police said Campbell was suffering from a gunshot wound when he was arrested. He was treated at a local hospital and then released. It was not clear if he was shot by campus police or if the wound was self-inflicted, police said.
Campbell was taken into custody around 1:55 p.m., roughly 30 minutes after the shooting was reported, the school said.
Officers from Bridgewater College Police, Bridgewater Police, the Rockingham County Sheriff's Office, Harrisonburg Police, the Augusta Sheriff's Office, Dayton Police and the FBI responded to the scene.
President Biden tweeted about the shooting late Tuesday.
"Another senseless shooting has taken the lives of two brave officers," he wrote. "Jill and I are praying for the families of those lost. Gun violence against law enforcement officers is sickening, and it must end."
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