Two days after the Bridgewater College shooting: A community in mourning

Photos by Bridget Manley, publisher

As the Bridgewater community mourns the loss of the two police officers killed in the line of duty Tuesday, residents across the Valley have rallied in support for the families of the fallen.

Soft rain fell all day on Thursday, as Bridgewater College students and staff continued to visit a makeshift memorial where  Officer John Painter and Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson lost their lives.

Bridgewater student Dharakshan Shaikh and her sister Afshan Shaikh leave flowers for the officers at the memorial. Dharakshan said she started at Bridgewater College as a student at the same time Officer Jefferson began work there.

Classes at Bridgewater College were cancelled for the remainder of the week. Students, teachers and faculty gathered Wednesday morning to sing the alma mater, “Bridgewater Fair.”

A safety cadet hat left at the memorial read, “Rest Easy, for JJ + Cowboy.”

The College has established the John Painter and J.J. Jefferson Memorial Student Support Fund to memorialize the officers. 

Members of the Bridgewater Women’s Tennis Team visit the makeshift memorial Thursday afternoon.

Officers Painter and Jefferson were brought home Thursday afternoon from Roanoke with a full police escort. Police from multiple agencies, including Harrisonburg, Rockingham, Page, Elkton, Broadway and the Virginia State police were part of the procession.

Traffic was blocked at multiple locations in Harrisonburg, including at the corner of East Market Street and Burgess Road as the procession exited off Interstate 81.

The bodies of the officers come home.

Community members lined East Market Street as the convoy passed, and overpasses and bridges along I-81 between Roanoke and Harrisonburg were lined with police, fire and rescue, and citizens paying their respects.

American flags lined East Market Street, including a large flag along the road.

A Harrisonburg Police Officer salutes the officers as they pass.

An American flag was draped above Kyger Funeral Home, where the officers were brought. Bridgewater College has announced that funerals for both officers are pending, but asked that the families privacy be respected during this time.

Two fundraisers are currently raising money for the memorial fund.

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