Thousands come out to funeral service for fallen officers J.J. Jefferson and John Painter

Published: Feb. 9, 2022 at 7:03 PM EST
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - A joint funeral service was held Wednesday, Feb. 9, for the two officers who were shot and killed on the campus of Bridgewater College last week.

Thousands of people came out to the Atlantic Union Bank Center on James Madison University’s campus to honor Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson through memories and music. More than 3,000 people came out for the service, according to Virginia State Police.

Communities across the Valley and across the country came to Harrisonburg to remember the lives of the two men.

“The dynamic duo... J.J. and John blessed us with their warm friendship, their knucklehead humor, their dedicated service, and of course, their personal sacrifice,” said Chaplain Robbie Miller.

Many spoke during the joint funeral service, describing officers Jefferson and Painter as loyal, loving, and strong, but above all else, heroes.

“Among all of the heroes this world has ever had, there is not one admired more, than the guy that I call dad,” Painter’s daughter, Courtney, said.

Officer Jefferson is being remembered as someone who was selfless and loved the students and community he served.

“When he enforced the rules he did so out of love to see students make better, wiser choices. He recognized the importance of the season of life college students are in,” Pastor Michael Miller of Crosslink Community Church, said.

Officer Painter was someone other officers looked up to and were proud to work with.

“He never complained. He loved his officers, he loved his job, he loved his community. In spite of his title, he was always humble.” J.R. Dodd, Chief of Timberville Police, said.

The lives these two men touched went beyond their own family and friends, though. The Bridgewater College community expressed how grateful they were Jefferson and Painter were there on Feb. 1.

“My heart is full of gratitude for the two brave men who offered the ultimate sacrifice of their lives to save and protect more people than we will ever know. Not many are willing to step up to the call of placing their lives in harm’s way for the good of others,” Jacob Painter, Painter’s nephew, said reading a post on social media from a parent of a student at the college.

Virginia Governor Glenn Youngkin said the day the two men lost their lives shattered not just the local community, but the entire Commonwealth.

“Our hearts are broken for you. On behalf of all Virginians, I express our deepest condolences,” Youngkin said.

While the two men are no longer with us physically, the legacy of J.J. Jefferson and John Painter will live on forever.

Painter’s nephews, Jacob and Austin, wrote an original song about their uncle called “Until We Meet Again.” The two performed it at the funeral service.

The officers also had a final call that played at the end of the service:

“Officer John Painter and Safety officer J.J. Jefferson’s end of watch was Tuesday, February 1, 2022, while serving and protecting the community with honor and courage. On behalf of your family, brothers and sisters in blue, partners of public safety, and the entire community, thank you for making the ultimate sacrifice to protect innocent lives. Final call for unit 3118 and 316. May you rest in peace...”

To watch the full funeral service, click here.

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