Eight-year-old Highland Park shooting victim paralysed from the waist down, family says

Cooper Roberts, 8, is in ‘critical but stable’ condition at an Illinois hospital

Johanna Chisholm
Friday 08 July 2022 14:48 BST
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Cooper Roberts, 8, had a bullet shot through his chest that severed his spine from the Highland Park mass shooting
Cooper Roberts, 8, had a bullet shot through his chest that severed his spine from the Highland Park mass shooting (GoFundMe)

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An eight-year-old victim of the Highland Park shooting has been left paralysed from the waist down, his family says.

In a GoFundMe for Cooper Roberts, friends of the family describe how the young boy and his mother, Dr Keely Roberts, were both hit by gunfire when suspected shooter Robert Crimo III, 21, climbed a fire escape onto the roof of a building in the Chicago suburb and began randomly firing off more than 80 rounds into a packed Fourth of July parade crowd.

Dr Roberts, who has reportedly undergone several surgeries and is likely to need more with the possibility of “long term medical issues”, is expected to make a full recovery and was released from hospital on Wednesday, a spokesperson for the family told the Chicago Sun-Times.

Her son, however, had his spinal cord severed after a bullet ripped through his chest, leaving him with injuries that family spokesperson Anthony Loizzi said will make his life going forward “a new normal”.

“They’re not sure because of the severed spinal cord whether or not he will be able to walk again in the future,” Mr Loizzi said in an interview on Thursday.

Cooper Roberts, 8, had a bullet shot through his chest that severed his spine from the Highland Park mass shooting
Cooper Roberts, 8, had a bullet shot through his chest that severed his spine from the Highland Park mass shooting (GoFundMe)

The eight-year-old was described as being active and an avid sports enthusiast, but right now those activities will have to wait, Mr Loizzi noted, as the child remains sedated and is only breathing through the assistance of a ventilator.

He is currently in critical but stable condition, according to the Chicago Sun-Times, but has been informed that the injury he suffered during Monday’s massacre has left him paralysed from the waist down.

“Cooper continues to fight as hard as he can. We know their medical bills will be significant as will the treatments and therapy that will follow,” the organisers of the online fundraiser wrote, acknowledging that “any help you can provide is deeply appreciated”.

Dr Keely Roberts and her son, Cooper, were both injured after they were shot during the Highland Park shooting on Independence Day
Dr Keely Roberts and her son, Cooper, were both injured after they were shot during the Highland Park shooting on Independence Day (Zion Elementary School District 6)

Staff and mangers from the Zion Elementary School District 6, where Dr Roberts works as the superintendent, are organising a community vigil for the Roberts’ family on Friday, 8 July, at 10:14am at place called “Esther’s Well” on Zion near Port Shiloh Pool parking lot.

“The District has received many offers of support from superintendents (active and retired) from throughout the region to assist us with short-term interim administrative assistance as we determine the best next steps as Dr. Roberts and her family take the time needed to heal from this devastating event,” wrote Ruth Davis, the president of the Zion Elementary School District 6.

“For seven years in Zion District 6 and other area school districts for many years prior, Dr. Roberts has done everything she can to support the needs of students and families in our community. Now, she and her family need our help and support.”

Dr Roberts received the news that her son’s spinal cord had been severed shortly after coming out of her own second surgery, Mr Loizzi said.

“She told her doctors and nurses that they should discharge her, or she would walk out on her own because she needed to be with her son,” he said.

Cooper’s twin brother, Luke, reportedly had pieces of shrapnel in his lower body, only some of which were able to be taken out as removing all of the pieces “would cause more damage,” Mr Loizzi said.

In addition to Dr Roberts and her 8-year-old son, the mass shooting that ripped through Highland Park in the midst of a summertime celebration killed seven people, between the ages of 35 and 88, and injured at least 45, according to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office.

Mr Crimo is currently being detained without bail and has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder. If convicted, he would face life in prison without the possibility for parole. The next hearing for the 21-year-old is scheduled for 28 July.

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