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Officer Andrew Hopfensperger Jr. (Antigo Police Department, Wisconsin)

Public Safety Officer Medal of Valor

Officer Andrew Hopfensperger Jr. (Antigo Police Department, Wisconsin) is being honored for saving many lives during a gunman's assault on students at a prom.

On April 23, 2016, Officer Andrew Hopfensperger Jr. was on routine patrol with another officer and his K9 partner in the parking lot of Antigo High School during its junior prom. The other officer was directing his K9 to sniff cars for illegal substances, and Officer Hopfensperger was walking slightly behind them looking into vehicles.

At approximately 11:00 p.m., a gunman approached the front doors of the school with a semi-automatic assault rifle and fired 10 rounds at four students as they exited the school, critically injuring one student in the leg and hitting another in the thigh. The remaining three students came to the wounded student's aid, apparently mistaking the noise and sparks from the bullets for fireworks.

Officer Hopfensperger drew his handgun and ran toward the sound of the gunshots. As he came closer, he saw the gunman approaching the four students with his rifle aimed at them. The students had their backs to the gunman and were unaware of the threat.

Officer Hopfensperger ran toward the gunman, yelling to direct his attention away from the students. The gunman turned and pointed his rifle directly at the officer, who continued to close the gap with the gunman, firing his duty weapon and striking him three times. Nineteen seconds elapsed from the time Officer Hopfensperger heard the first shot until the gunman fell.

Officer Hopfensperger handcuffed the mortally wounded gunman and attempted lifesaving measures, but the assailant succumbed to his injuries. All four student victims and the other 109 students and staff at the prom survived the attack due to the heroic and immediate action of Officer Hopfensperger.

Date Published: September 8, 2020