BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WRIC) – Bridgewater College in Rockingham County, Virginia, went into lockdown Tuesday after an active shooter was reported on campus. The college has confirmed that two campus officers were killed in the line of duty.

The victims were Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson, who the college said were close friends known on campus as the “dynamic duo.”

Jefferson (left) and Painter (right). (Photos courtesy of Bridgewater College)

In a statement, Bridgewater President David Bushman said Painter had been the best man at Jefferson’s wedding, and called their deaths an “unspeakable tragedy.”

“I pray for that peace which passes all understanding for John and J.J.’s families and for all of us,” Bushman said. “Please take care of yourself and each other.”

The college said state and local law enforcement responded to the campus after reports that two police officers had been shot and an armed suspect was on campus.

One student described a tense atmosphere as those on campus waited in lockdown, “No one really knew where he was or what he was planning to do next or if he had been caught yet.”

Bridgewater College said Virginia State Police had an individual in custody at 2:08 pm, but initially urged students and staff to continue sheltering in place as the “situation [was] still ongoing.”

Around 4:30 p.m., they announced that the scene was all clear.

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin tweeted confirmation that the individual in custody was believed to be the shooter, saying, “The shooter is in custody and state and local police are on the scene.”

Following the incident, police moved from building to building “for additional safety purposes,” and those sheltering in place were urged to remain calm and listen to law enforcement officers.

The college, located in the Shenandoah Valley just 15 minutes away from James Madison University, first reported the situation at 1:24 p.m.

State Police were reported on the scene just seven minutes after the initial alert was sent out. Twenty-seven minutes later, at 1:58 p.m., the college told everyone on campus to “let your loved ones know you are okay.”

Virginia Attorney General Jason Miyares tweeted after the incident asking others to join him in prayer for the Bridgewater community and the law enforcement officers involved. Sen. Mark Warner also stated on Twitter that he was continuing to monitor the situation and was praying for everyone involved.

Law enforcement officers from the Bridgewater College Police Department, Town of Bridgewater Police Department, Virginia State Police, Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office, City of Harrisonburg Police, Augusta Sheriff’s Office, Town of Dayton Police Department, FBI and the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries all played a role in the response to the active shooter.

  • Officer on the scene at Bridgewater College
  • Scene at Bridgewater College
  • Officer on the scene at Bridgewater College
  • Scene at Bridgewater College
  • Scene at Bridgewater College
  • Scene at Bridgewater College

Sen. Mark Obenshain (R-Rockingham) released a statement after the double shooting, calling the incident “devastating and heartbreaking.”

“I do not know what evil is responsible for this terrible and heartbreaking event. It is clear that something is wrong in our society when tragedies like this occur. Whether it is hate, drugs, mental illness or some other underlying factor, these are urgent priorities on which we must work together,” Obenshain said.

He said the Shenandoah Valley is typically caring and supportive but that evil can “lurk in the shadows of any community.”

Another lawmaker representing the area, Sen. Emmett Hanger (R-Rockingham) expressed prayers for the officers’ families and gratitude to those who responded to the shooting.

“On a picturesque, small-town campus our worst fears came true but this community will no doubt support each other and prove it truly is a family of Eagles who will rally and fly together to overcome,” Hanger said.