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Two Bridgewater College officers killed; suspect in custody

Police on the campus of Bridgewater College Tuesday afternoon.
Randi B. Hagi
Police on the campus of Bridgewater College Tuesday afternoon.

Two Bridgwater College officers were shot and killed Tuesday afternoon. The man accused of shooting them is now charged with capital murder and other counts.

The officers were identified as Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson.

During a news conference Tuesday evening, a state police spokeswoman identified the suspect as Alexander Wyatt Campbell of Ashland. Campbell is being held in the Rockingham County Jail on multiple murder charges.

Authorities said Painter and Jefferson responded to reports of a suspicious person around Memorial Hall Tuesday afternoon. After a brief interaction, police said the man, later identified as Campbell, opened fire on the officers and ran from the area. The spokesperson said no students were in the area at the time of the shooting.

As other law enforcement agencies responded to the campus south of Harrisonburg, a person fitting the suspect's description was seen off campus in the town of Bridgewater. The man waded across a shallow river to an island. Officers took Campbell into custody there without further incident.

The spokesperson said Campbell had a non-life threatening gunshot wound when he was arrested. Authorities are still trying to determine if the wound was self-inflicted or if he had been shot by Painter during the initial encounter. Police said multiple firearms connected to Campbell were recovered both on and off campus.

Authorities would not comment on any potential connection between Campbell and the college community.

College President David Bushman said classes are canceled Wednesday. He called for members of the community to rally around and support each other.

David Seidel is Radio IQ's News Director.
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