Bridgewater community reacts to campus shooting

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 8:19 PM EST
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WDBJ) - At 1:24 Wednesday afternoon the bells at Bridgewater United Methodist rang in honor of JJ Jefferson and John Painter, the two officers who were shot and killed on the Bridgewater College campus Tuesday afternoon.

“Their families are grieving and it’s just very very sad,” said Linda Harper, a Bridgewater resident who has lived in the community more than 50 years.

The bells broke the serenity that exists in Bridgewater only for a moment. Classes aren’t in session for the rest of the week and many students have gone home.

Harper is hoping to find one or two students left, to buy coffee for.

“I just want to be helpful, do something for the community and let them know that I care,” said Harper.

That sentiment is shared by the church community. Wednesday evening Bridgewater United Methodist held a community healing service.

“You know up until now we thought we were in a safe place, but when tragedy does strike, it reminds us that we are not always as safe as we might think we are, so we need God more than ever as we go through this together,” said Reverend Steven McMillion.

Store marquees have the officers’ names in big letters, and flags are at half staff thanks to a governor’s order.

Those who knew Jefferson and Painter, and those who didn’t, are grieving.

“I can’t imagine what the families of the two officers are going through. It’s impossible for us to understand that, but our hearts go out to them,” said McMillion.

The people who make up the town and college campus are determined to not let tragedy define them; instead they plan to come away from this, stronger.

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