BC Shooter Suspect Appears In Court

Case Going to Grand Jury


Jackie Letaiugyang

The BC Strong sign was placed on campus after the shooting in Feb. 2022. Nine months later, the second preliminary hearing occurred on Oct. 26.

Nathan Good, Editor in Chief

During today’s hearing for alleged Bridgewater College shooter, Alexander Wyatt Campbell, the prosecution argued that the murders were premeditated, and the judge determined that there was probable cause for all charges. The grand jury is set to convene Nov. 21. 

Campbell faces five different charges, including two counts of aggravated murder of multiple persons, aggravated murder of a law enforcement officer, murder in the first degree and the use of a firearm in a felony.

During the hearing, four witnesses were called to testify on behalf of the Commonwealth, including a BC student who was outside of Memorial Hall, the Harrisonburg police officer who made the arrest and two special agents with the Virginia State Police. 

Evidence was given regarding Campbell’s access to Memorial Hall, weapons possession and movements on campus.

During the investigation, the basement of Memorial Hall became a point of interest. Detectives testified that they discovered that in one of the rooms, the doorknob was removed, and there was a latch on the door placed by the suspect. 

Detectives also testified that inside the room, there was a pegboard with bags containing food, ammunition, laundry detergent and other personal items.

This included a calendar on the pegboard serving as a daily journal for Campbell who recorded his interactions on campus, like showering in Nininger Hall, doing laundry and taking different walking paths. Campbell also used the calendar to mention seeing officers on campus.

At the time of arrest, police said that they found Campbell’s duffle bag containing a tactical shotgun and air rifle. In the suspect’s coat pocket, they found a 38 snub nose revolver which was identified as the murder weapon. 

“John and J.J.’s loved ones are on my mind tonight, as is our student who testified at the hearing, and every member of the BC community as they remember the trauma of that terrible day,” said Bridgewater College President David Bushman who was at the courthouse. 

The Oct. 26 hearing at the Harrisonburg Rockingham District Court was nearly nine months following the murders of Police Officer John Painter and Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson, due to it being continued ahead of the previously canceled hearing for May 18. 

The first preliminary hearing for Campbell took place on Feb. 16, just fifteen days after the shooting occurred.

During the February preliminary hearing, the judge issued a court-ordered mental health evaluation to be done on the suspect, as well as a 90-day mental health status report. Campbell’s attorney, Gene Hart, announced that Campbell could have undiagnosed schizophrenia.

There was no mention of the mental health evaluation during today’s hearing. 

“Hearing the details of the Virginia State Police investigation wasn’t easy for any of us,” said Bushman. “I was proud of the strength and resiliency of our campus community last winter, and I was reminded of those qualities today.”

Some Bridgewater students impacted by the Feb. 1 shooting express that the tragedy has shifted their outlooks on life. 

“When the unimaginable happened in a place with such a strong sense of security, it caused me to expect the worst outside my home,” said Zach Gray ‘22. “Despite the negative outcomes from the tragic event, I have learned to live life to the fullest because you never know when it will be the last time you wake up in the morning.” 


Correction: An earlier version of the story inadvertently stated that a “trial” would convene Nov. 21. A Regular Grand Jury will determine whether there is probable cause to believe that a felony has been committed by the accused person. This procedure is used because a District Court has no authority to try a person for a felony. Update was made Oct. 27, 2022.