Highland Park shooting leaves boy, 8, with severed spinal cord

Cooper Roberts will have a 'new normal for him going forward' with serious injury

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A boy, 8, had his spinal cord severed when he was shot in the chest during the attack on a Chicago-area Fourth of July parade that left seven dead, a family spokesman said on Thursday, while his twin brother and mother were also wounded.

Cooper Roberts was one of the most gravely wounded among dozens of people who survived gunshots and other injuries in the Highland Park Independence Day assault, underscoring physical and emotional devastation that goes beyond the lives lost in such violence.

He was listed on Thursday in critical but stable condition while still breathing on a ventilator, family spokesman Anthony Loizzi said.

Cooper's twin brother, Luke, was admitted to hospital with shrapnel wounds in the lower body but discharged after doctors removed some of the debris. The boys' mother, Keely Roberts, suffered gunshot wounds to her legs and feet, Mr Loizzi told reporters during a Zoom call.

The twins attended the parade with both parents, with the father, Jason Roberts, unhurt.

Due to the severity of his spinal cord injury, doctors are unsure whether Cooper will ever walk again, said Mr Loizzi, a colleague of the mother, who is superintendent of a Lake County elementary school district.

Cooper, normally a "very active" child with a passion for baseball and other sports, has remained unconscious and under sedation since he was airlifted to the University of Chicago Comer Children's Hospital, Mr Loizzi said.

The mother, who underwent at least two surgeries herself, was so distraught at Cooper's condition that she insisted on being released on Wednesday, sooner than doctors felt was best until her bleeding was under greater control, to be with her son at the children's hospital, Mr Loizzi said.

The boy has undergone several operations, including one on Wednesday night in which surgeons "finally closed his belly," the spokesman said.

"He's fighting as hard as he can," Mr Loizzi said of the boy's recovery. The family as a whole, including four adult sisters, were "devastated but focusing their energy on Cooper," he said.

"It's been a very emotional time for everyone in their circle," he said, adding he did not know whether Luke had yet been told of the severity of his twin's condition.

Friends of the family established a GoFundMe page seeking to help cover their medical bills.

Updated: July 08, 2022, 6:20 PM
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