Antigo community thanks police with cookies, cards, and signsSubmitted: 04/28/2016

Play Video
ANTIGO - Police Chief Eric Roller keeps his emotions pretty well in check.  But as the Antigo Police Department break room fills with food and thank-you cards, Roller cracks—just a bit.

"Seeing that and seeing all the responses on Facebook, I mean, that's the part that chokes you up," Roller said in his office Thursday afternoon.

Just five days earlier, essentially the entire Antigo police force (and many other departments across northern Wisconsin) scrambled to stop a teenager from killing anyone at the high school's prom.  Two party-goers were hurt, and the 18-year-old shooter, Jakob Wagner, was killed, but thanks to officers Andy Hopfensperger and Ryan Bula already at the scene, the threat ended there.  Hopfensperger shot Wagner "multiple times,"according to court documents released earlier this week.

Based on protocol, Hopfensperger and Bula are on leave pending a state investigation. Their absence means long hours for a department of 15 temporarily down to just 13.

"It does put a lot of strain on everybody and especially with everything else that's going on, I think people have a lot of different feelings and emotions anyways, and we don't want to burn them out," Roller said. "[Hopfensperger] had a job to do and he did it, and i think we're all fortunate," Roller said. "Not personally going through an event like that, I don't know how I would react or how I would feel, but I think he's doing pretty good. He's got a lot of support."

People haven't just directed that support to Hopfensperger alone. Cards, cakes, and cookies addressed to the entire police department show up every day.

"The community's really stepped up," Roller said.

That includes community members like Ronald Welnetz.

"The Antigo Police Department probably prevented a big or greater catastrophe than what did happen," Welnetz said. "Every time something like this happens it opens people's eyes up."

The real estate broker put up a thank-you sign outside his Superior Street office this week. For Welnetz, it was a simple gesture.

"Antigo community's been like this forever," Welnetz said. "Helping each other out. If there's a catastrophe or sickness or benefits for cancer patients, whatever, that's always been huge."

A huge response from a small town, giving thanks to those who never ask for it.

"We did our job and we're trained to do that, but people really appreciate it and [they say], 'You did some great things'," Roller said. "[Hearing] how people really feel toward you? That's pretty neat."

Roller couldn't go into much detail regarding the state investigation, saying only that everything is in the Department of Criminal Investigation's hands. But Roller did confirm that there are several pieces of video from the shooting that the state is processing. The chief believes the video will help show that his officers' actions were justified.

When asked if the shooting would lead his department to look into getting body cameras for officers, Roller said it was worth considering.

"Any time you have any more recordings, it's probably more beneficial," Roller said. "You get the exact indication of what really went on."

Story By: Lane Kimble

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


Play Video

EAGLE RIVER - After what happened last weekend at Antigo High School's prom, many people can't help but think about increased security measures at other schools. But Northland Pines High School wants teens to think about other issues before their prom on Saturday.

Tri-County Council was at Northland Pines Thursday talking about dating violence. They want kids to be respectful of each other and have fun this weekend.

+ Read More

Play Video

WESTON - A new health clinic in Weston hopes to help women with different health issues.

The Couri and Smyth Health for Life Medical Center had its ribbon-cutting ceremony Thursday. The clinic is led by two doctors, Dr. Kimberly Couri and Dr. R. Louise Smyth, who specialize in helping with women's health issues.

+ Read More

WISCONSIN RAPIDS - Wisconsin Rapids Police expect to release the three names from Wednesday's double-murder suicide soon. The department is waiting for today's autopsies to be finished before releasing those names.

Officers search the Wisconsin Rapids home Wednesday morning and found three bodies.

+ Read More

PHILLIPS - More than 50 people in Price County lost their jobs last year when Georgia-Pacific announced it would close its plant in Phillips.

However, a company in Phillips could re-open the facility, but it wants help from the city and the county before it buys the building.

+ Read More
+ More Local News


MILWAUKEE - Children's Hospital of Wisconsin says one of its patients has been diagnosed with the bloodstream infection Elizabethkingia.

The child is in the neonatal intensive care unit at Children's in metro Milwaukee. The hospital says there's no indication the child has a serious infection, but the case has been forwarded to state health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

+ Read More

MADISON - University of Wisconsin-Madison's executives will get cultural training following a semester marked by students' calls for a more inclusive college experience for minorities.

Associated Students of Madison, the university's student group, sent a letter to Chancellor Rebecca Blank on Sunday demanding university leaders, including her, get training regarding identity, power, privilege and unconscious bias.

+ Read More

MILWAUKEE - Family and friends gathered to mourn the death of a Milwaukee woman accidentally shot when her 2-year-old son picked up a loaded handgun.

About 50 people got together outside a family member's home in Milwaukee Wednesday night where they hugged, cried and shared stories about Patrice Price.

+ Read More

HAMILTON, OH - A 15-year-old boy accused of shooting students in an Ohio cafeteria has pleaded guilty in juvenile court to four attempted murder charges and one charge of inducing panic.

Butler County's prosecutor dropped four felonious assault charges against James Austin Hancock.

+ Read More
+ More Regional News

Click Here