Bridgewater community standing together following shooting

Published: Feb. 3, 2022 at 10:48 PM EST
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - Downtown Bridgewater has been somber in the days following the deadly shootings at Bridgewater college.

As the community mourns, they have also rallied together to honor the fallen officers and support the college and local law enforcement agencies.

“We just want them to know that we’re here for them, we love them, we support them, and if there’s anything that we as a business or individuals can do, we’re here for them,” said Becky McIntyre, office manager of Smiles for Life Dental Care in Bridgewater.

McIntyre and her husband moved to Bridgewater from California in 1982.

“We literally felt like we moved to Heaven. This is a wonderful community,” said McIntyre.

Smiles for Life Dental Care has made a poster signed with heartfelt messages from staff and patients to send to Bridgewater College. They aren’t the only local business looking to help the community recover.

“A pub by definition is called a ‘public house.’ It’s a place where people come to gather, to talk, to support each other, to cry together, to laugh together, and we would certainly encourage people to come out and do that,” said Patti Landes, owner of the Cracked Pillar Pub in Bridgewater.

Landes hung blue lights around the inside of the Cracked Pillar Pub to support law enforcement, as some Valley residents have done. The pub is also offering free lunch to any first responders who assisted in the response Tuesday.

Store owners in the Dayton Market are also showing their support for local law enforcement.

“A couple of us decided that we would take the Dayton Police Department lunch. I am able to make custom tags for my product, so I made them a ‘thank you’ tag and a little letter saying thank you,” said Cindy Tobin, co-owner of Whiskey Valley Jerky inside the Dayton Market.

The market’s shop owners will also meet on Thursday night to discuss a larger way to honor law enforcement.

“We do have some special recognition that we’re working on, so stay tuned to our social media to see what that will be,” said Catherine Lathrop, co-owner of Rusty Willow Décor inside the Dayton Market.

“We just want everyone who was involved to know how much we appreciate them,” added Cindy Tobin.

Around Bridgewater, members of the college community are also working to help each other through this difficult time.

“We’re trying to support each other. I just met a friend for lunch, and we went back to campus. I felt the need to go on campus, so we went back and gave some of my colleagues that were in today some hugs, and let them know that we’re here for them,” said Mary-Frances Heishman, a Bridgewater College Alumna, who taught and coached at the school for 46 years.

Heishman said Bridgewater students will support each other in tough times.

“Bridgewater is a loving place where people care for each other, and so there’s no doubt in my mind they’ll support each other and pull together. I’m just sorry they’re not going to have the happy peaceful memories that so many of us had. Their year is going to be very different from what our memories are,” she said.

Ultimately, those around Bridgewater know the community is strong and will stand together in its darkest time.

“I don’t want Bridgewater to be known as the place where a school shooting happened. I want us to be known as a place where we rallied together and we supported each other and that love wins out,” said Becky McIntyre.

A prayer vigil for the Bridgewater Community will be held by Crosslink Community Church on Sunday at 6 p.m. in the Turner Ashby High School Gymnasium.

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