Cooper Roberts, 8, the Highland Park boy paralyzed during a mass shooting on July 4, returned to school last week on a limited schedule.
Cooper, who uses a wheelchair after being paralyzed from the waist down, began the third grade at the same school as his twin brother, Luke, last Thursday.
“We didn’t know if this day would ever come — a day where we were able to watch Cooper return, with his brother Luke, to school again,” the boys’ parents Keely and Jason Roberts said in a written statement.
Cooper’s school schedule varies as he requires physical therapy and other rehabilitation. His family has called the boy’s survival a miracle as he was in critical condition for weeks after the shooting. A bullet damaged his internal organs and severed his spinal cord.
Robert Crimo III is in custody and has been charged with more than 100 counts of murder, attempted murder and aggravated battery in the mass shooting that left seven people dead and dozens wounded at the Highland Park July 4 celebration. Crimo is accused of firing a high-powered rifle into the crowd from a nearby rooftop.
In addition to the criminal charges, multiple civil lawsuits related to the shootings have been filed — including one by lawyers for the Roberts family — against Crimo, his father, two gun stores and gunmaker Smith & Wesson.
Cooper’s return to school was bittersweet, according to his parents. He was “heartbroken” that he couldn’t play on the playground for recess, but the boy still called his return to school “a really great day,” his parents said.
“It has been one of the most humbling and hopeful experiences of our lives to watch our precious 8-year-old, who has had so much cruelly and violently ripped away from him — his life needlessly and forever changed — so cheerfully and excitedly count down the days leading to his return to school,” Keely and Jason Roberts said.
Late last month, Cooper returned home after a stay at Shirley Ryan AbilityLab, formerly known as the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago.
Friends of the family have raised more than $2 million through GoFundMe.
Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.