ANTIGO, Wis. (WSAW) -- Breaking her silence six months after the Antigo High School prom shooting, Jakob Wagoner's mom said her son was unable to get over a breakup, and fired a rifle at a group of students so police would kill him.
“I don't think he intended to hurt anyone besides himself,” Lorrie Wagner said. “It was a suicide. He had tried to commit suicide just prior to this and was unsuccessful.”
The breakup, according to Wagner, happened one month before the April 23 shooting that left two students injured.
"He just didn't want to move on,” Wagner said. “And the rest of the world did.”
On the morning of the shooting, while the two hiked, Wagner said she noticed something was different about Jakob. However, the difference was not enough for her to worry by the time said she went to bed about 10:30 p.m.
"I said goodnight to him and he was texting a friend,” Wagner said. “And he kind of said 'nah' goodnight. Goodnight."
That 'goodnight' would be the last time Wagner talked with her son. Jakob snuck out of the house with an SKS rifle in his guitar case, making the mile-and-a-half bike ride to Antigo High School.
“He had half a block to see where the police were. He stopped directly where the officer was in the parking lot,” Wagner said.
Inside, more than 100 students were celebrating prom. Outside, four were leaving. Wagner said the shooting that followed convinces her Jakob never wanted to hurt anyone but himself.
“If he had wanted to hurt somebody I think he would've done a lot more damage than he could of,” Wagoner said. “Gone in and easily shot into the auditorium. He could've easily. He didn't kill anybody. He could've easily killed all four of those students.”
Instead, Wagner thinks her son unintentionally shot two students as he shot in the group's direction hoping officers would shoot him.
“I really ask people not to judge what had happened. And to really realize there are two sides to every story. It's so easy to say ‘this person’s evil because they shot up the school.’ But there's always something behind it,” Wagner said. “They always have a family who is heartbroken, devastated. And it's hard enough to get through this without having people cast blame.”
Today, Wagner is grateful that night was not any worse. Her heartache for the son she lost is coupled with sorrow for what he took away.
"I'm sorry for all the kids. This was supposed to be such a big event in their life. Prom. And in an instant it was ruined. And I'm so sorry for that. And my heart goes out to the four families. It's something they're going to have to live with for the rest of their lives," Wagoner said.
“I never thought he would've done this."
"He was a good kid,” Wagner said. “Barely got into trouble.”
The shy, introverted son Lorrie Wagner knew had grown into an 18-year-old young man by the spring of 2016.
“Sweet kid. Really nice, talented musician," Wagner said. “He was becoming a good friend of mine. He wasn't just my child anymore. We'd hang out together."
Since Jakob had graduated from Antigo High School that previous spring, his mom loved seeing the man he was growing up to be.
"Loved his job. We were talking about getting him ready for school. He wanted to go to the tech. He was just happy," Wagner said.
But from his mom’s perspective Jakob's break up turned all that happiness into an eternal depression.
“You just don't realize what you have until it's gone too. I still expect him to come home and say ‘how you doing mom? How was your day?’ But it's not going to happen,” Wagner said. “Just not having him here. Because the hardest part - it was so sudden.”
Six months after the life changing night, Wagner has used "Jakob's Light" to help her breathe again. That's the name of the support group she's started with friends.
So far, Wagner said it has helped at least one dozen teens inside the coffee shop she calls it her "home away from home."
Her goal is to work to ensure teens dealing with any issue, including bullying, suicidal thoughts, and substance abuse always have a resource.
"If you need help there's always someone there to listen," Wagner said.
A message delivered with gut wrenching determination. Wagner said it's almost like she's talking to Jakob.
"I miss you. I love you,” Wagner said. ”I would've done anything to get him the help he needed. No. I never thought he would've done this."
If you or a loved one are in Antigo, and need the support of Jakob’s Light, you can email Pathway of Hope and Light.
For additional links to professional crisis counselors, click here.
Shooting victim Collin Cooper, his family and Antigo School District Administrator Brian Misfeldt did not comment for this story.