By Craig Marx, Editor
Wisconsin showed it was collectively “Antigo Strong” on Wednesday as communities from across the state displayed their maroon apparel, flags, and spirit to aid the city’s healing process. In the wake of Antigo High School’s tragic prom shooting in late April, senior Collin Cooper is currently recovering at home after recently being released from Wausau Aspirus Hospital last Friday.
As the assailant, Jakob Wagner, opened fire on prom goers outside of Antigo High School on the night of April 23, Cooper was hit in the lower left leg, critically wounding the 18-year old. After the shooter was neutralized by Officer Andrew Hopfensperger of the Antigo Police Department, Cooper was first rushed to Langlade Hospital and then on to Wausau.
“It’s doing pretty good,” Cooper said about his wounded leg. “We have a vacuum hooked up to it that is suppose to help clean out the wound and help heal twice as fast. The nurses come every other day to change the dressing.”
The bullet struck Cooper below the knee. Upon arriving at the hospital, 10 percent of Cooper’s tibia was considered shattered. A rod and multiple screws were inserted to help stabilize the fractured bone.
The initial gunshot wound caused excessive bleeding. Cooper said the tourniquet that was applied by his friend, Spencer Fittante, was crucial in helping him prevent further loss of blood.
“I did lose quite a bit of blood. My blood levels were really down the next day. The bullet didn’t hit any major arteries though and it only nicked one vein,” Cooper added.
“I am doing pretty good. It doesn’t hurt too bad. It hurts being down a little bit but I’ve been doing physical therapy on my own. Hopefully I can just get back to the physical condition I was at before,” Cooper said.
With roughly three weeks left until graduation on May 29th, Cooper does not have any plans to return to school any time soon.
“I could go back to school whenever I wanted, but right now I am just too tired from my blood levels being so low and my leg hurts when it is low. That’s the two reasons why I am not going back now. I’ll have my work sent here for a while and if there is time left in the year, then I’ll consider going back to school,” the high-spirited young man said.
Cooper also said that he will be attending his graduation ceremony. In addition to the end of the school year, a more important opportunity to meet Collin’s lifesaver, Hopfensperger, will happen soon.
“We’re hoping to meet the police officer that saved his life this weekend,” Collin’s mother, Tracy, said. “We are really looking forward to it. It’s been a busy time. He’s had lots of friends, visitors, and cards. We are just so thankful for the support we’ve gotten.”
As Antigo continues to heal with support from schools and communities across the nation, the Antigo Strong campaign was in full effect with this week’s Maroon Day, an event that Cooper witnessed via the massive online presence of Red Robin backers.
“There was a lot of stuff going on. I saw a lot of [Antigo Strong] stuff on social media. I thought that was pretty sweet,” Cooper said in closing.