Bridgewater community reacts to campus shooting

BRIDGEWATER, Va. (WDBJ) — At 1:24 a.m. Wednesday afternoon, the bells of Bridgewater United Methodist rang in honor of JJ Jefferson and John Painter, the two officers who were shot on the Bridgewater College campus Tuesday after -midday.

“Their families are in mourning and it’s really very sad,” said Linda Harper, a Bridgewater resident who has lived in the community for more than 50 years.

The bells only broke the serenity that exists in Bridgewater for a moment. Classes are not in session for the rest of the week and many students have returned home.

Harper hopes to find one or two remaining students to buy coffee.

“I just want to be helpful, do something for the community and let them know I care,” Harper said.

This feeling is shared by the ecclesial community. On Wednesday evening, Bridgewater United Methodist held a community healing service.

“You know until now we thought we were in a safe place, but when tragedy strikes it reminds us that we’re not always as safe as we might think, so now more than ever we need God as we go through this together,” Reverend Steven McMillion said.

The capitals of the stores bear the names of the officers in large letters and the flags are at half-mast thanks to the order of the governor.

Those who knew Jefferson and Painter, and those who did not, are in mourning.

“I can’t imagine what the families of the two officers are going through. It is impossible for us to understand this, but our hearts are with them,” McMillion said.

The people who make up the city and the college campus are determined not to let tragedy define them; instead, they plan to come out of it stronger.

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