BC Strong: One year after the Bridgewater College shooting

Published: Feb. 1, 2023 at 8:55 AM EST
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BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WHSV) - On February 1, 2022, the town of Bridgewater was shaken by the deadly shooting on the campus of Bridgewater College.

The tragic incident killed campus safety officer Vashon ‘J.J.’ Jefferson, and campus police officer John Painter. Now, one year later, a reflection on how residents came together to be ‘Bridgewater strong’.

In the initial days following the shooting, Bridgewater residents and businesses opened their doors to anyone who needed it.

“We just want them to know 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,” Becky McIntyre, office manager for Smiles for Life Bridgewater said in an interview with WHSV on February 3, 2022.

Whether it was a meal, a song, or a simple gesture, businesses wanted to do their part to honor and support students, faculty, and residents of the town.

Some organizations raised money that would go toward a memorial fund for officers Jefferson and Painter.

“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,” Patti Landes, owner of the Cracked Pillar Pub said in an interview with WHSV on February 3, 2022.

Bridgewater Police Chief Phillip Read says even 12 months later, still an outpouring of support for first responders, the college, and the town of just 6,000 people.

“Unity and just coming together as a community has been overwhelming of the support that they’ve shown our department and just shown our town,” Read said.

The phrase ‘Bridgewater strong’ continues to ring true on the anniversary of a day that the town will never forget.

“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,” McIntyre said.

The Bridgewater Police Department and the town will be holding a public sunset memorial to honor the fallen officers on Feb 1 at 5:38 p.m. at Oakdale Park. You can find more information here.