Cooper Roberts: Paralyzed Highland Park shooting victim wakes up from coma, asks to see brother, dog
CHICAGO, ILLINOIS: The family of an eight-year-old boy who was shot in the Highland Park massacre has confirmed that he has been "paralyzed from the waist down". Cooper Roberts, whose spinal cord was severed during the attack, may never walk again. Roberts' twin brother and mother were also wounded in the shooting carried out by Robert Crimo.
"It's going to be a new normal for him moving forward," family spokesman Anthony Loizzi said in a statement to CBS News. "It sounds (like) he'll have significant issues moving forward, especially with walking." For the first time since the July 4 shooting, Roberts was conscious on Friday, July 8. He was sedated and has been removed from a ventilator, but is said to be in a lot of pain. "At this time, the doctors do not believe that he suffered any brain damage or cognitive impact from the shooting," Loizzi said.
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Cooper Roberts, since gaining consciousness, has been asking to see his twin brother, Luke, and his dog, George. Luke, who was hospitalized with shrapnel wounds in his lower body, has been discharged. Doctors, however, were unable to remove all of the debris from his body. Jason Roberts, their father, also attended the parade but was not injured.
Roberts has been described as a "very active" child with a passion for baseball. He is said to be a big Milwaukee Brewers fan. Roberts' mother underwent at least two surgeries but insisted on being released early so she could be with her son at the children's hospital. "After she received her second surgery, and then she received news that Cooper's spinal cord had been severed, she told her doctors and nurses that they should either discharge her, or she'd walk out on her own," Loizzi said.
Roberts has undergone numerous surgeries, and surgeons have now "finally closed his belly", the Daily Mail reported. "He's fighting as hard as he can," Loizzi said. He added that he did not know whether Lucas has been told of the severity of Roberts' condition. "They are best friends, partners in crime," Roberts' older sister said of the twins. "There's nothing this kid can't do and no words for the amount of goodness within him."
On July 4, Robert Crimo, armed with a powerful rifle, opened fire from a rooftop at a Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb of Highland Park. Seven people eventually died as a result of the attack. Crimo has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder for a “premeditated and calculated attack", prosecutors said. "He has been charged with seven murder counts, one for each of the victims he shot dead on Monday’s Fourth of July parade," Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart confirmed. If Crimo is convicted, the seven murder counts carry a mandatory life sentence without the possibility of parole.
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A doctor who was present at the scene of the shooting said he saw the victims with "wartime" and "unspeakable" injuries. Dr David Baum, a long-time obstetrician in Highland Park, was attending the parade with his wife and children as his two-year-old grandson was performing. "The people who were gone were blown up by that gunfire," Baum recalled according to CNN. "The horrific scene of some of those bodies is unspeakable for the average person." He added, "Having been a physician, I've seen things in ERs, you know, you do see lots of blood. But the bodies were literally - some of the bodies - there was an evisceration injury from the power of this gun and the bullets. There was another person who had an unspeakable head injury. Unspeakable." Six of the seven victims have been identified, including Steve Straus, 88; Katherine Goldstein, 64; Jacki Sondheim, 63; Nicholas Toledo Zaragoza, 78; and husband and wife Irina and Kevin McCarthy, 35 and 37.