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Greetings from The Booth!
Sometimes you have to write about something you’d rather not write about. This is one of those times.
This week, senseless tragedy visited the Shenandoah Valley, when 2 campus police officers, J.J Jefferson and John Painter, were gunned down by a lone assailant at nearby Bridgewater College just south of Harrisonburg (Va.). The two officers were known as “the Dynamic Duo” at BC, and were not just co-workers, but good friends. One of the men was the best man in the other’s recent wedding.
It’s a surreal, empty feeling that falls over our Valley today, a feeling very reminiscent of 2007, when a gunman killed 32 people and wounded 17 others on a Spring day in Blacksburg on the campus of Virginia Tech. I remember thinking that day, “Blacksburg?!? How could something like that happen in basically the middle of nowhere?”
Tuesday’s tragic events point out that no one and no place is immune in today’s world. If you were to pick the most unlikely place for a campus shooting, Bridgewater might be on your list. Located one exit south of Harrisonburg, BC rises up from the Rockingham County farmland, and although the sprawling campus of JMU and the Harrisonburg nightlife is just a stone’s throw from Bridgewater, there is a feeling of insulation at BC. Aside from the Eagles going to the Stagg Bowl in 2001 to play for the NCAA D-3 Football Championship, rarely does something on a national scale happen at or in Bridgewater.
There is a Shenandoah University connection to the tragedy. Jefferson was a former public safety officer at SU, so there is an extra level of grief today at Shenandoah. Although we have our rivalries on the field, we are one ODAC family off the field, and we grieve with the Bridgewater community.
Today, we are all Eagles.
Until the next visit from the Booth…GO BC, GO HORNETS!