Prosecutor won't charge officer who shot prom attacker

AP News
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Posted: Jul 14, 2016 6:06 PM

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Wisconsin police officer who shot and killed a teenager who had opened fire on students with a semi-automatic rifle as they left their high school prom will not face criminal charges.

Langlade County Special Prosecutor Galen Bayne-Allison has decided not to charge the officer involved in the April 23 shooting outside Antigo High School in northern Wisconsin, the state Department of Justice announced Thursday.

The statement did not say why Bayne-Allison decided not to pursue charges against Antigo police officer Andrew Hopfensberger Jr. Asked in a phone interview about his rationale, Bayne-Allison referred a reporter to a memo he wrote on July 8 in which he concludes that use of deadly force was reasonable. The officer saw Jakob Wagner open fire on the prom-goers, saw him advance toward them with a rifle raised and heard the students yelling for help. The prosecutor added that Wagner pointed the gun at Hopfensberger.

"Hopfensperger's use of force is privileged and the death of Wagner, no matter how unfortunate it may have been, is not a crime," Bayne-Allison wrote.

Antigo police said in a statement Thursday that Hopfensberger returned to active duty on July 8, the same day Bayne-Allison issued the memo.

Wagner, 18, dressed in black and camouflage pants, slung a rifle over his back in a guitar case, and rode his bike to the prom around 11 p.m. He shot 18-year-old student Collin Cooper in the leg and a bullet grazed the thigh of Cooper's date as they were leaving the prom.

Hopfensberger happened to be in the school parking lot with a drug-sniffing dog as Wagner began shooting. He warned Wagner to drop his gun but Wagner pointed it at him. The officer then fired three times as he approached Wagner, killing him.

The investigator report reveals new details about Wagner's mindset leading up to the shooting.

Wagner's grandparents told investigators he had been bullied since middle school, the shooting occurred about a month after his girlfriend broke up with him and that Wagner had recently threatened to kill himself.

His grandparents, whose names were marked out, also told investigators that the bullying was so intense during Wagner's sophomore year of high school he was allowed to leave early to escape his tormentors, he avoided using the school bathroom because he was "tortured" there and he sometimes was chased down the street by bullies.

Wagner bought the high-powered rifle used in the attack at a local gun show two weeks before the shooting. A few days before the shooting he posted pictures online from firearms magazines.

Wagner's ex-girlfriend reveals that she told police he stopped eating for a while after they broke up and that she knew he had purchased a gun shortly before the attack.

After buying the gun, Wagner posted April 9 on Facebook that he "expressed my inner American today and bought a rifle. I'm proud of myself."

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Associated Press writer Todd Richmond contributed to this report.

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