Bridgewater College president praises unity in aftermath of deadly shooting

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 10:18 AM EST
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - The Bridgewater College community came together on Wednesday morning for a showing of unity following Tuesday’s tragic shooting. Students, faculty and community members gathered to sing the college’s alma mater “Bridgewater Fair” on campus.

“I think it’s definitely brought the community together, it’s been very sad but everyone is taking care of each other the best that they can,” said Kiersten Fultz, a student at Bridgewater College.

A day after the shooting, students reflected on the tragedy and what it was like to be on campus during the chaos.

“I wasn’t on campus at the time, and that’s only because my professor - who’s class I would have been here for - she hurt her foot the night before,” said Rhiannon Bloom, a Bridgewater student. “And it’s just something as small as that, and the only thing going through my head was that I should have been here.”

Fultz said she hopes the tragedy will not be forgotten across the nation. “I’m hoping that we get more awareness about these types of issues all over the country, and how it’s usually too late by the time it happens,” she said.

Bridgewater College canceled all classes for the remainder of the week. As the school prepares to reopen on Monday, leaders must figure out next steps in the wake of the tragedy.

“We’re now moving forward with how do we heal as a community, how do we move forward?” said Dr. David Bushman, president of Bridgewater College. “People will grieve in different ways and at different times. Our first concern is the safety, well-being and thoughtfulness with which we engage our faculty, staff, and students.”

Bushman said the school’s primary focus is giving students and staff all the support they need during this difficult time.

In the coming days, the school will evaluate its security and emergency protocols. Bushman said the school remains confident in its campus police and emergency communication system, which worked well on Tuesday and helped keep students out of harm’s way.

“Communication went very quickly. The campus siren worked. The information got out very well those processes worked. The students in all the buildings were locked down,” said Bushman.

Bushman commended students and staff for supporting each other through Tuesday’s chaos.

“Faculty and staff in those places were fantastic in helping students and helping manage that,” he said. “It’s stressful. It’s anxious. It’s scary, but again, we’re thinking about each other. It’s a strong community and even in that most stressful moment people were taking care of each other,” he said.

The school will review its emergency response at a later date to determine if any changes need to be made.

Dr. Bushman said he is grateful for the support the school received from local and state law enforcement as well as the surrounding community. He also shared a message for students and staff who may be struggling after the shooting.

“We want them to know we care about them and we want them to be safe and healthy and take care of themselves right now, if they need help to deal with this trauma reach out to us and let us know,” said Bushman. “We have the ability to help them navigate that and we have to do it together, I don’t want anyone to feel alone right now.”

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