Two campus officers were shot and killed Tuesday during an active shooter situation at Bridgewater College in Virginia, according to college spokesperson Logan Bogert.
“I can confirm that a campus police officer and a campus safety officer died from gunshot wounds today,” Bogert told CNN’s Josh Campbell.
College President David Bushman, in a message on the school’s Facebook page, called the shootings an “unspeakable tragedy.”
“Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer JJ Jefferson were shot and killed on campus while protecting us,” Bushman wrote. “These officers were close friends, known to many of us as the ‘dynamic duo.’ John was JJ’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.”
Virginia State Police identified the suspect as 27-year-old Alexander Wyatt Campbell of Ashland, Virginia.
Campbell has been charged with two felony counts of capital murder, one felony count of first-degree murder and one felony charge of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony, Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller said at a Tuesday night news conference.
He is being held without bond at the Rockingham County Jail. CNN has been unable to determine whether Campbell has obtained an attorney.
Suspect fled after shooting
The incident began when campus police officers responded to a call of a suspicious man on the grounds near Memorial Hall at about 1:20 p.m., according to Geller. When Jefferson and Painter arrived, they had a brief interaction with the suspect, who then shot them both and ran away.
Authorities from multiple surrounding agencies responded to the area and immediately began searching for the suspect, Geller said.
“A man fitting the shooter’s description was located on Riverside Drive off campus in the town of Bridgewater,” Geller said. “He then waded through the river and onto an island in the North River,” where he was taken into custody without further incident.
Campbell had a non-life-threatening gunshot wound and was treated at a hospital after the arrest, Geller said. Police are investigating whether his gunshot wound was self-inflicted or a result of gunfire exchanged with the campus officers.
“Multiple firearms associated with Campbell have been recovered as evidence,” she said.
Several people heard or witnessed the shooting, Virginia State Police said, and the agency is asking for the public’s help for any information.
A shelter-in-place order that the college was under for most of the afternoon was later lifted.
Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered flags be flown at half-staff Wednesday in honor of officers Jefferson and Painter.