In Grief


Abby Gaver

Chrysanthemums symbolize strong character and sincerity. Gladioli symbolize grief and mourning.

Katie Baker, Nathan Good, and Jordan Davis

John Painter and J.J. Jefferson
Police Officer John Painter and Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson

What our campus safety does, what they are all about, keeping our community safe.

Thank you, Officer Jefferson and Officer Painter for serving us.

February 2, 2022

“Love and compassion are necessities, not luxuries. Without them, humanity cannot survive” – Dalai Lama  

Standing in line at the grocery store, sitting in the doctor’s office waiting room or walking down a crowded street. You may wave hello or smile to passersbys, but do you know their names? What are you willing to sacrifice for them? As a college student sitting in an afternoon class taking a test, I could ask myself the same questions about my peers. Despite the close-knit community Bridgewater College is, do I know their names? What would I sacrifice for them? What would they sacrifice for me?

These questions may seem speculative, but the shared experience of my classmates and I prove that a hypothetical may turn real in the blink of an eye. An active shooter directly outside the window of our classroom forced us to work together in ways that a group project could never have prepared us for. 

Running to the back of the building, the first human instinct kicks in: stay together as a strong unit. Sure, we had always been told to make a plan when working on a team, but no college course briefed us for a situation of this magnitude. 

A plan of action unfolds. As we cram 13 into a single-person restroom, the second human instinct kicks in: compassion. This group of more-or-less college acquaintances immediately start worrying about one another, just as much as ourselves. 

Still, do we know each other’s names? Maybe not, but we are learning what we’re willing to sacrifice for one another.

Huddled behind the locked door on the bathroom floor, minds flooding and hearts racing, phones are passed around to contact loved ones, and constant refrains of “Are you okay?” pour over the confined room. 

As we continue to comfort each other, our teamwork does not yet come to an end. We remind ourselves to stay quiet, stay updated and to stay as calm as possible. 

Each minute feels like an eternity, but the strength in numbers puts me at a slight ease. I realize that I would much rather face this urgency with my classmates than face it alone. With every outside sound, the entire room falls silent. Despite being 13 individuals, we act as one.

With every news update, we become closer to safety.

Once the building is secure, we look around at one another, trying to process the nightmare we just experienced. I look at the faces of my classmates differently than I ever had before. Tensions begin to diminish as state police enter Memorial.

It’s just now that we turn to one another and ask for the first time, “What’s your name?”

~ Nathan Good, Staff Writer

“As we work to create light for others, we naturally light our own way.”  – Mary Anne Radmacher

Their names we know. Their names we will not forget. Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson will be etched on the battered hearts of all those they knew, served, protected and loved – and especially every Bridgewater Eagle. 

It is not how they died that makes them heroes, but how they lived – full of enough light to safeguard our entire campus and community – to the very last minute. In tirelessly working to create a space for our community to shine in the brilliance of its safety and care, Painter and Jefferson naturally lit their own way through their boisterous laughter, attentive servitude, warm friendships with each other and with students, and profound courage. 

The dreadful events of Feb. 1 have cast a shadow of darkness over the Bridgewater College community as we grieve the sudden and unfairly extinguished lights of Painter and Jefferson. 

Faced with the realities of the aftermath, how do we heal? How do we seek to put the pieces of our shattered community back together? 

Though our footing will feel more disparate than sound, our wings will learn to beat again as we look to the radiant examples of Painter and Jefferson. Be a beacon of light to your fellow Eagles, and in turn, ignite your own dim path.  

~ Katie Baker, Editor in Chief

Editor’s Note

As details about this tragedy unfold, it is normal to have a wide range of thoughts, feelings, and reactions. 

If you’ve had experienced previous traumas, such as deaths, losses, violence, etc., you may be reminiscing and feeling a multitude of memories and emotions that has been heightened from yesterday’s events. Even students and faculty who were not in physical proximity to the incident will be affected. 

A person’s response to trauma varies whether it is grief, depression, changes in appetite and sleep patterns, stress, etc. Please understand that any of these reactions are natural and that there is a natural healing process that takes place over time. There is no right or wrong way to grieve; it is deeply personal. 

In this time of healing, we will keep Officer Painter and CSO Jefferson’s names and memories alive. In addition to any campus events and support being offered (check your BC email), we must support one another to move forward and adapt in the face of adversity. 

While our campus will never be the same, please reach out to those close to you and comfort one another in the way that is most meaningful to you. 

The BCVoice staff sends our deepest condolences to Officer Painter’s and CSO Jefferson’s families and loved ones. 

Prayers — and forever in our hearts — to Campus Police Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer Vashon “J.J.” Jefferson.

~ Jordan Davis, News Editor