NATIONAL NEWS

Man pleads guilty in deaths of 2 officers at Virginia college in 2022 and is sentenced to life

Feb 27, 2024, 4:53 AM

HARRISONBURG, Va. (AP) — A man who had been scheduled for trial in the shooting deaths of two popular police officers at a Virginia college in 2022 instead pleaded guilty and was sentenced to life in prison.

Alexander Campbell, 29, pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Bridgewater College Officer John Painter and Campus Safety Officer J.J. Jefferson, news outlets reported. Campbell also pleaded guilty to two counts of using a firearm during a felony.

A judge in Rockingham County Circuit Court accepted the terms of a plea agreement and handed down two life sentences, plus six years in prison. A trial had been scheduled for April.

Painter, 55, and Jefferson, 48, were friends who were known on campus as the “dynamic duo.” Campbell was a student at the school from 2013 to 2017 and had competed on the cross-country team.

The shooting happened Feb. 1, 2022, when the officers were called to an area outside the college’s Memorial Hall on a report of a suspicious man on campus.

At a hearing later that year where a judge determined Campbell was mentally fit to stand trial, a student described seeing Painter and Jefferson confront Campbell, who then fired several shots. The judge also heard from an officer who arrested Campbell. The officer said Campbell appeared to be coherent and wanted to know the officers’ names so he could apologize to their families.

After Campbell entered his plea, Rockingham County prosecutor Marsha Garst presented the evidence she would have used in a trial, noting that Campbell had been living illegally in the basement of Memorial Hall for four days before the shooting. He had the revolver used to kill the two officers, two shotguns, an air rifle, and a lock-picking kit, she said.

Relatives of the two officers provided impact statements before Campbell was sentenced, sharing how their lives were affected by their deaths. The deal was reached in part to avoid putting the victims’ families through the pain of a lengthy trial, Garst said. They were consulted throughout the negotiation and agreed with the deal, she said.

Bridgewater is in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, about 180 miles southwest of Washington, D.C.

National News

Associated Press

3 Columbia University administrators put on leave over alleged text exchange at antisemitism panel

NEW YORK (AP) — Columbia University said it has placed three administrators on leave while it investigates allegations that they exchanged unprofessional text messages while attending a panel discussion about antisemitism on campus. The university said the administrators work for its undergraduate Columbia College, which hosted the panel discussion “Jewish Life on Campus: Past, Present […]

3 hours ago

Associated Press

Man charged in shooting that critically wounded Philadelphia officer, police say

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A 36-year-old Philadelphia man was charged Sunday with attempted murder in connection with a shooting that critically wounded a police officer after a traffic stop, police said. Ramon Rodriguez Vazquez also faces charges that include aggravated assault and home invasion, police said. The 31-year-old officer and his partner stopped a car carrying […]

4 hours ago

Associated Press

California boy, 4, who disappeared from campground found safe after 22 hours alone in wilderness

FRESNO, Calif. (AP) — A 4-year-old California boy who wandered away from a campground in the Sierra National Forest was found safe after spending 22 hours alone in the wilderness, authorities said. A search-and-rescue team of about 50 officers and volunteers set out around 11 a.m. Thursday after the child was reported missing from the […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

One man died and five others were hospitalized in downtown St. Louis shooting

ST. LOUIS (AP) — One man is dead and five others have been wounded in a downtown St. Louis shooting, police said. Police believe women were fighting in a park when men stepped in and drew firearms, according to a statement from St. Louis police. The man who died likely was in his mid-twenties and […]

6 hours ago

Associated Press

Michigan sheriff’s deputy fatally shot pursuing a stolen vehicle in Detroit

DETROIT (AP) — A Michigan county sheriff’s deputy was fatally shot while pursing a suspected stolen vehicle in Detroit, the Oakland County sheriff’s office said Sunday. Bradley J. Reckling, who was on duty in an unmarked car, was following a 2022 Chevy Equinox Saturday evening after the vehicle was reported stolen earlier in the day […]

7 hours ago

Associated Press

Authorities search in rural Colorado for suspect in shooting that left 1 dead, 2 injured

ALAMOSA, Colorado (AP) — Officers went door to door in a rural area of southern Colorado on Sunday as aircraft searched overhead for a man suspected of shooting three people, killing one, and then fleeing on foot into farmland after a failed carjacking. Suspect Henry Corral, 44, should be considered armed and dangerous, said police […]

7 hours ago

Man pleads guilty in deaths of 2 officers at Virginia college in 2022 and is sentenced to life