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Gunman wounds 2 outside prom before cops kill him


    Two Antigo police department vehicles sit in front of the entrance to Antigo High School, Sunday, where an 18-year-old gunman opened fire late Saturday outside of a prom at the school. (Fred Berner/Antigo Daily Journal)

ANTIGO, Wis. » An 18-year-old man opened fire with a high-powered rifle outside of a high school prom in northern Wisconsin, wounding two students before a police officer who was in the parking lot fatally shot him, authorities said today.

Investigators did not say whether they believe the two students were specifically targeted or discuss a possible motive for the shooting outside Antigo High School late Saturday. But a school administrator said it appeared that the gunman — identified by police as Jakob E. Wagner — intended to go into the dance and start shooting randomly.

The two prom-goers who were wounded were shot as they exited the building, according to Eric Roller, the chief of police in Antigo, a community of about 8,000 people roughly 150 miles north of Milwaukee.

“Officers were in the parking lot patrolling the activities and heard the shots and an officer immediately fired upon the shooter, stopping the threat,” Roller said. He said the gunman was then taken into custody. Wagner died at a hospital.

In a statement, the Unified School District of Antigo said Wagner approached the school with a high-powered rifle and a large ammunition clip. The district said the “quick actions” taken by police and district staff to secure the building “prevented what might have otherwise been a disaster of unimaginable proportions.”

Interim district administrator Donald B. Childs told The Associated Press on Sunday that it appears Wagner intended to go into the building and shoot at people at the dance.

“We have no reason to believe at this point it was targeting anybody specifically,” Childs said, adding that the shooting outside the entrance happened “from some distance.”

The female victim was treated and released and the male victim was undergoing surgery for injuries that weren’t life-threatening, police said. Childs said the wounded boy, who was shot in the leg, attended the high school but that his date, who was grazed in the shooting, was from out of state.

Nikita Deep, a student at the school who attended the prom, told the Wausau Daily Herald that police officers came into the building and moved students to one corner. Students weren’t released until about 2 a.m. Sunday, three hours after the shooting.

“We heard there was a situation, but I thought it was some kind of drug bust,” Deep said. “Then they flipped the lights and then about 12 officers came in and are armored. We were all frightened.”

Gov. Scott Walker praised the police response, saying in a statement the actions of the Antigo Police Department “undoubtedly saved lives.”

Friends said Wagner was a senior at Antigo High School in 2015, but Childs said he did not graduate with his classmates and was continuing to work on his diploma. He said the school of about 750 students will have counselors available when classes resume Monday.

Friends expressed shock that Wagner was the suspect.

“For him to do that, something just isn’t right. He was a good kid,” said Dakotta Mills, who said he had known Wagner since sixth grade and considered him a “foster brother.”

Wagner was interested in guns and wanted to become a hunter, Mills said, but he wasn’t sure Wagner could afford a gun. He said Mills was raised by his mother and grandparents and was still living at home.

Wagner loved video games and music, particularly violin and cello, and had been in the school marching band, Mills said.

Dylan Dewey, who graduated from Antigo High last year, said Wagner had been dating a girl at the school who broke up with him last month. He described Wagner as an “all-around good guy” who enjoyed hanging out with friends.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Division of Criminal Investigation has been asked to lead an outside review of the officer-involved shooting, agency spokesman Johnny Koremenos said.

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  • The M-1 Garand “clip” holds 8 rounds. It is quite large. Does this mean that the shooter was carrying a M-1 Garand rifle? Did he have a larger clip that didn’t fit into the rifle? Sure wish the story was better written. 🙁

    • It’s the same thing that makes Society for Creative Anachronism hobbyists wince when they hear or read references to “chain mail” armour or “two-handed” broadswords. A die hard enthusiast of European arms and armour might claim to not know what you’re talking about if you use those terms.

    • Right. The Garand is one of those weapons in which “clip” is used correctly. Not that it would any difference to the lives the kid ruined.

  • I am sure that the NRA will point out that more guns would have made it safer. Maybe if all of the students had a gun … or maybe two! The second amendment needs more constraints for the safety of those who do not choose to carry little machines designed to kill. So how much money does the NRA contribute to Republicans? Maybe money is God … it seems to be in control.

    • leino, in case you didn’t bother to actually read the article, one or more bullets from a gun stopped the attack. Is there any way you’d care to dispute this? Do you think Wisconsin cops are issued Federation phasers or Klingon disruptors? I know Hawaii is kind of backwards in many ways, but not that backwards.

      • Kind of a crazy argument here.

        1. If the NRA ever made any of the strawman points you’re accusing them of making, leino, I’d like to see a cite.

        2. The one or two rounds DD refers to were discharged by police officers doing their sworn duty, not private citizens exercising any “Right of the People”

    • truelies, you probably couldn’t care less, but HRS134 made the remark because the Garand uses what are known as en bloc clips to hold its ammunition. Most semiautomatic rifles and selective-fire rifles (which includes true assault rifles), such as the AK-47 you mentioned, use what are properly called magazines. The difference between clips and magazines is that the latter contains a feeding mechanism (typically a spring and a follower) whereas the former does not. Google “M1 Garand” or “U.S. rifle, caliber .30, M1” and look at its en bloc clip; it’s nothing but a simple piece of formed spring steel sheet metal.

    • Please educate yourself before spewing nonsense. Very tragic situation that was quickly ended by a “good guy with a gun”. Sensationalization by the media by improperly referring to a “large ammunition clip” perpetuates people’s fear of guns. What most don’t realize is that if more people were properly trained to use them, a lot of lives could be saved and tragedies like this could be reduced.

      • I don’t think that “large ammunition clip” would sound any less scary than “30-round magazine.” What’s more germane to any gun control debate – if that’s what this is going to turn into – wasn’t even mentioned in the story. I for one would like to know where the kid got his weapon.

        • Uh, TigerEye, the “kid” is described at the beginning of the article as an 18-year-old man. If so, then he was of legal age in Wisconsin to purchase and possess any legally permissible handgun or long gun, including the “evil” Title II firearms and accessories so long as registration and applicable transfer taxes with the BATFE are complied with.

          My apology if prior incarnations of this article specified the shooter’s age as 17 or less.

        • “Uh, TigerEye…”

          Well, DD that’s some speech impediment you’ve got if it’s going spill over into your keyboard.

          I made no argument to the effect of him being under aged and in possession of a firearm. I really don’t care if he’s a legal adult. But if you prefer a scenario in which he walked into a store and purchased that weapon legally – then shot up a school with it, we’ll just call that your argument for gun control, not mine.

          No apology necessary. If you think I’m not affording the kid the respect due a legal adult, more power to you.

        • TigerEye, no need to be nasty, no need at all. I was simply saying Wagner could have been the legal owner of the firearm he used.

          That “speech impediment” that appears to irk you so was merely a device to accord you some respect. I can’t keep track of all the possible revisions S-A decides to update a story with. At the time I submitted the post, I observed that the last story revision occurred AFTER you made yours at 6:16 pm. Therefore, I couldn’t with certainty determine if you’d read an earlier reference to Wagner being less than 18 years old.

          The apology made in my last sentence was a genuine one, and was another way of according you the respect and benefit of the doubt I thought you deserved. And that’s all it really was.

      • The idea that an ammunition magazine becomes “large” at some point demands we define what the definition of large is. Wisconsin itself, unlike benighted states such as Hawaii, recognizes no upper limit for ammunition magazines, so STANDARD-capacity magazines for vintage and modern firearms should, in that state’s context, be defined as 10 (Colt Woodsman, Lee-Enfield and SKS), 13 (Browning Hi-Power or “Grande Puissance”), or 15 (M1 Carbine and SIG Sauer P226), or 17 (Glock 17) or 20 (M16/AR-15, BAR, FN FAL and M14/M1A), or 30 (AK-47 and AK-74). It should be noted that most of these examples are designs well over 50 years old.

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