In spite of the shooting that happened over the weekend, the Antigo school is holding classes. The incident, where two students were wounded and the gunman, Jakob Wagner, was shot and killed, is the only thing people are talking about in the small town of Antigo, Wisconsin, which has around 8,000 residents.
As students head back to school, they will find cars belonging to the Antigo police department parked outside. Security was heightened to protect the students and perhaps fill them with a feeling of safety as they returned to classes.
Nick Grabowsky, 17, was Jakob Wagner’s friend, and he finds it hard to believe that Jakob would do such a heinous crime.
Nick is heartbroken about the incident, and he said, “You expect it could happen but you never expect it to happen to you.”
For once, people are praising the law enforcement for their quick response and stopping what could have been a massacre of many lives. Phillip Basnett said that not only did he hear the shots fired, he also saw the gunfire coming from the school. He had just returned home from work that night and his house is kitty-corner from the school. He didn’t think too much about it; to him, it was kids being kids on a prom night. Within seconds, he said police cars swarmed the school.
“Shots were going crazy. It was pretty intense. I ducked and ran to my house. I thought maybe it was just kids being kids.”
However, it wasn’t kids celebrating the evening with gunfire in the air. When Phillip reached the safety of his house, he said, “My wife said, ‘Did you hear the fireworks?'”
Phillip said he replied to her, “‘No, those were shots!’ We went back outside. In that amount of time, police had flooded the area and had the situation under control.”
Phillip credits the quick response of the police officers to saving countless lives. It was later reported that Jakob Wagner arrived at the school with a large, fully loaded ammunition clip, and it is believed that Mr. Wagner planned to go inside the school and start shooting.
“I’m so very grateful to the Antigo Police Department. They’re trained well, and they did what any parent would want. It’s unfortunate what happened, it’s very tragic, but I couldn’t feel safer with their response. They did exactly what you would want them to do.”
Before Phillip Basnett moved to Antigo, he lived in California, where the sounds of shots happen almost daily. He thought Antigo, Wisconsin, was a safe community and gunfire was not a part of it except out in the country when people went hunting. What happened in Antigo over the weekend showed that shootings can happen almost anywhere in the world. No community is too small for an incident like this to occur.
“One of the reasons I was so relaxed here is because I got away from it, the bullets firing and the sirens and the chaos of the big cities. We’re a small, loving community. Everybody knows everybody. This is just tragic.”
When a call went out for law enforcement backup, Bruce Brown was one of the police officers who responded. He was called to duty on Sunday to be at the school where the shooting took place.
Officer Brown said he was proud of the policeman who took down the shooter, Jakob Wagner.
“It makes me feel proud that he did what we’ve been trained to do. That’s what our jobs are about, to serve the public and do what’s right and do what we can. We train because we don’t want it to happen, but we train like it’s going to happen, and unfortunately it did.”
Not only did the officers from Antigo arrive on the scene, the sheriff’s department from Langlade and Lincoln came, as well as police officers from Medford, Tomahawk, and Rhinelander.
Antigo Police Chief Eric Roller said, “We have a small staff, and with a lot of help, we were able to secure the scene and get the other students safely out. We have to train for it, and it paid off. We were able to stop the threat, and that’s a very good thing.”
Heidi Aros’ son was at the prom at the time of the shooting, and he texted her to explain what was happening. She praises the quick action of the police department. She also knew the gunman, Jakob Wagner, and she had a hard time believing that he could actually do such a thing. Jakob went to kindergarten with her daughter, and she also worked with his mother.
“I think they did their job just as they were supposed to, it’s unfortunate that the shooter has passed. I also knew him. I know he’s always been a quiet kid. It’s one of those things that you hope that no one you know would ever do that. The hows and whys go through everyone’s minds. I never knew him as a bad kid.”
As the students head back to school and the community tries to heal, many questions will remain unanswered. Jakob Wagner’s body underwent an autopsy, but it will be weeks or months before the results will be known. There are many hate messages filling the internet about Jakob Wagner, and one comment referred to Jakob as a “nerdy white kid that was the product of the public e̶d̶u̶c̶a̶t̶i̶o̶n̶ indoctrination system, most likely heavily medicated and filled with white guilt.”
Emily Fisher, who graduated with Jakob Wagner in 2015, revealed a possible reason that may have made Jakob grab his rifle on prom night and want to shoot prom-going students.
“He was bullied a lot. Ever since we were younger, he was one of the kids you kind of watched out for. If someone was going to shoot the school, we thought it was going to be him.”
According to Emily Fisher, the other kids ganged up on Jakob Wagner because of his poor hygiene. They called him names, and she believes they may have even been violent toward him. The bullying began in middle school and continued through the rest of his school years. Emily said that the teasing became slightly less frequent when he was in high school.
Then, last month, Jakob Wagner’s girlfriend allegedly dumped him, and he was devastated by her actions. He became depressed, and this may have contributed to his desire to get even.
[Image via Instagram]