Suspect in deadly Bridgewater College shooting was former student: Court records

WCAV-TV

(BRIDGEWATER, Va.) — The suspect in a shooting on a Virginia college campus that left two officers dead was a former student at the institution, according to court documents.

Andrew Wyatt Campbell, 27, faces multiple felony charges, including two counts of capital murder, in connection with Tuesday’s shooting at Bridgewater College.

A campus police officer and a campus safety officer were fatally shot after responding to a call of a “suspicious male individual” on the grounds of the college’s Memorial Hall, Virginia State Police spokesperson Corinne Geller told reporters Tuesday.

Geller did not elaborate on any connections between the alleged shooter and the small, private liberal arts college. However, in court records obtained by Harrisonburg, Virginia, ABC affiliate WHSV, authorities noted that Campbell had dropped out of Bridgewater College.

Bridgewater College confirmed with WHSV that Campbell, of Ashland, Virginia, was once a member of the college’s track and field and cross country teams. He attended the school from 2013 to 2017, a school spokesperson told The Associated Press.

In 2017, Campbell was charged with trespassing for entering the campus’ Kline Campus Center, the school’s main dining hall, “after being banned,” an arrest warrant at the time stated.

Several college employees called 911 Tuesday after seeing the suspect in and around the college’s Memorial Hall. “He was not supposed to be in this particular location,” Geller told reporters.

Campbell was charged with two felony counts of capital murder, one felony count of first-degree murder, one felony count of use of a firearm in the commission of a felony and aggravated felony murder of more than one person within three years in connection with the shooting, court records show. He is being held without bond at the Rockingham County Jail.

The suspect made his first court appearance Wednesday via video conference for an arraignment in Harrisonburg/Rockingham General District Court. His attorney requested that Campbell undergo a mental health evaluation, WHSV reported. His next court appearance is scheduled for Feb. 16 at 1 p.m.

Police are investigating a motive in the shooting, which killed Bridgewater College Campus Police Officer John Painter, 55, and Campus Safety Officer Vashon “JJ” Jefferson, 48.

Painter joined the department in May 2019 after retiring as chief of the Grottoes Police Department in Virginia, and Jefferson joined in August 2018.

The two were close friends and known to many as the “dynamic duo,” according to Bridgewater College President David Bushman.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin ordered that flags in the state be flown at half-staff Wednesday “in respect and memory of the officers lost.”

In the wake of the tragedy, Bridgewater canceled classes for the remainder of the week and gathered to sing the school’s alma mater Wednesday.

Bushman told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas in an interview Wednesday that the tight-knit campus community is suffering an “unspeakable” loss.

“We’ve navigated a pandemic together and it’s almost like you’re getting back to normal. And then it’s just, it’s unimaginable,” Bushman said.

“In so many ways this hurts so deeply because we are a tight community, but that’s also our greatest strength,” he said. “And that’s why I know we know we will grieve together and will heal.”

The officers were “always together” and on a first-name basis with students, the president said.

Bridgewater College sophomore Jack Cataneo, 20, told ABC News the incident feels “like a bad dream.”

“It really makes you think because it could happen to anybody,” he said.

ABC News’ Quinn Owen, Sarah Shales and Ben Stein contributed to this report.

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