ANTIGO — A teenager accused of shooting and injuring two students outside a high school prom in Antigo, Wisconsin died after police returned fire, officials said Sunday, April 24th. Investigators are now looking into why the suspect approached the school on Saturday night, armed with a rifle and opened fire.
Police identified the suspect as 18-year-old Jakob Wagner. He used to attend Antigo High School, police Chief Eric Roller said.
The victims, who were shot as they left a building where they had been celebrating prom, suffered injuries that were not life-threatening, according to police.
A female victim was treated for a gunshot wound and released, while a male victim was undergoing surgery late Sunday morning.
"The fact that we`re not immune to it in Antigo -- it just makes everyone believe no one`s immune to it," Greg Bruss, a church treasurer at the Methodist church located across the street from Antigo H.S. and a school bus driver in Antigo said.
FOX6 News spoke with the young male victim's grandmother off camera. She said her grandson was shot in the leg, but that his condition was improving.
About 11:00 p.m. Saturday, Wagner "arrived at the Antigo High School prom with a rifle and began shooting while outside the entrance of the building," a statement from police said.
Officers who were patrolling the parking lot heard the shots, and one of the officers opened fire on the gunman. Wagner was taken to a nearby hospital, where he died at 1:06 a.m. after doctors attempted life-saving measures, the statement said.
Wagner is believed to be the lone shooter, police said, and investigators were executing a search warrant at his home Sunday.
"All the people within the prom were eventually escorted from the school and are safe," Roller said.
A friend of Wagner told the Associated Press the gunman loved video games, hanging out with friends and music.
Dakotta Mills told the Associated Press he had known Wagner since sixth grade and considered him a foster brother. He says Wagner was raised by his mother and grandparents.
Mills says Wagner was interested in guns and wanted to become a hunter, and had gone through a hunter safety course a few years ago. But he wasn't sure Wagner could afford a gun.
Mills says the Wagner he knew was "a good kid."
18-year-old Dylan Dewey of Antigo told The Associated Press that Wagner had been dating a girl at the school but that she had broken up with him last month.
Dewey described Wagner as an "all-around good guy" and said he generally seemed happy.
A school administrator said he does not believe Wagner targeted the victims. Instead, interim district administrator Donald Childs told The Associated Press he believes Wagner planned to enter the prom and start shooting randomly.
A student who did not want to be identified told FOX6 News Wagner had been depressed following the break-up with his girlfriend. She said the victims were randomly targeted -- as they were among the first to leave the building. She said Wagner recently told her about a trip to the shooting range, but she thought nothing of it. She described Wagner as a kind and nerdy person who loved cats and music.
Childs said Wagner did not graduate with his class from Antigo High School last year and was continuing to work on his diploma.
On social media, following this shooting, a number of students changed their profile pictures to an image reading: "Love and prayers for AHS."
School district officials said in a statement posted to their website Sunday evening that a thorough search of the Antigo High School building had been completed, along with the on-site investigation.
Officials said the advice of experts is that school should resume on Monday so that students and staff members can have access to support from counselors who will be available at all school sites.
There will also be heightened police presence around the high school.
School officials said earlier Sunday officers outside the school on Saturday night "prevented what might have otherwise been a disaster of unimaginable proportions."
Sonia Reed, whose son Matthew attended the prom, told WSAW that she was on campus earlier in the evening for the "grand march," during which students and their dates form a procession and parents cheer them on before the prom king and queen are named.
She estimates that there were 100 to 120 students in attendance and describes the atmosphere as "festive."
"I didn't see anything suspicious. I didn't feel any bad vibes. It seemed like it was going to be a normal prom," she told the station.
She learned of the incident, she said, when she received a call from another mother who said police were at the school and had "somebody down" in front of the school offices. The person was wearing camouflage pants and a dark top, Reed said. Her son had already left the prom by that time, she said.
Reed, who moved to Antigo from Texas in 2004, said that although she wouldn't be surprised to hear something like this had happened in a major city, she was stunned it unfolded in Antigo.
Everyone knows each other in the town of 8,000 about 85 miles northwest of Green Bay, she said. She described it as a farm town where many students happily participate in Drive Your Tractor to School Day.
"I have two other children that's in the high school, and they don't want to go back, period," Reed said. "They're just beyond freaking out here."
Governor Scott Walker released the following statement regarding the shooting at Antigo High School:
Tonette and I send our thoughts and prayers to the students of Antigo High School, their families, and the community of Antigo. We pray for the full recovery of those injured, and we praise the response of the Antigo Police Department which undoubtedly saved lives.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice's Division of Criminal Investigation is investigating.