“We take care of our people:” Bridgewater community mourns loss of officers shot in line of duty

Published: Feb. 2, 2022 at 5:20 PM EST
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WVIR) - It was a day of mourning in the Bridgewater community Wednesday, February 2.

Bridgewater College Officers J.J. Jefferson and John Painter were both shot and killed in the line of duty Tuesday.

The sound of “Bridgewater Fair,” the college’s song, rang out across a quiet campus that day, as students and staff came together to honor the fallen officers.

“Bridgewater’s been known to be the safest college in Virginia for several years now, and you just never think it’s going to happen to you until it does.” said Kiersten Fultz, a sophomore at the school.

Fultz was on campus when reports of a suspicious male on campus were first reported, leading to the shooting of the two officers.

“We immediately just went to the back of the room and hid there in the dark for a few hours. It was really quite scary for a little while because we had no idea what was going on outside,” Fultz said.

Her sister, Rheannon, was also on campus at the time, seeing events unfold from a library window.

“It was really disturbing to see all the ambulances, police trucks go by. It was slowly getting more and more intense,” she said.

Now, flowers, crosses and a note, reading, “Thank you for protecting us,” sits on a bench close to the crime scene.

Students embraced each other and officers, who are still on the scene as the investigation continues.

A Domino’s Pizza right down the road gave away dozens of pizzas to officers who rushed in to help.

“Only thing I really got to give is pizza, so I figured I’d give him the pizzas for free. So we gave them all 50 at no charge so that they could feed their team who were doing such hard work,” said Viktoria Spellers, the Domino’s operating partner at the Bridgewater location.

It’s part of what Rhiannon Bloom, a junior who works at that Domino’s, says is what Bridgewater is best at.

“If I could give Bridgewater a motto, I’d say it’s, ‘We take care of our people.’ All the businesses, the school, the churches, we just take care of each other,” Bloom said.

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