Cooper Roberts, 8, sees condition worsen after being paralyzed in Highland Park parade mass shooting

The Highland Park boy again is in critical condition, with a partially collapsed lung and a new infection. He underwent additional, complex surgery, according to his family.

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Cooper Roberts, 8, who was paralyzed when a bullet severed his spinal cord during the July 4 mass shooting in Highland Park.

Cooper Roberts’ condition worsened Tuesday to critical condition.


Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy who was left paralyzed after being shot in the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting, underwent further, complex surgery Tuesday because his condition worsened.

The boy, whose spinal cord was severed by a bullet, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, was again back in critical condition at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital after having shown some improvement Friday, according to his family.

The bullet, which entered the boy’s abdomen, injured his liver, abdominal aorta and his esophagus near his stomach. A hole in his esophagus initially was sewn shut, the family has said.

“Cooper’s esophagus has reopened,” his family said in a written update Tuesday. “As a result, he is facing an urgent, complex and lengthy surgery today to again attempt to repair his torn esophagus. This is his seventh surgery and is of particularly high risk given his age and current condition.”

By Tuesday evening, the family provided an additional written update, saying doctors were able to “find and close the leak.”

“This is a good outcome — Cooper is still fighting,” the family said. “His condition is being closely monitored and the next few days will be critical to ensure that he responds positively.”

One of Cooper’s lungs is partially collapsed, according to the family, and he also has been experiencing an elevated heart rate and spiking fever due to a new infection. Those conditions are being treated with medication.

Cooper was one of dozens of people shot at the parade. Seven have died.

Robert E. Crimo III, 21, is being held on murder charges in the mass shooting.

Cooper and others in Highland Park were shot with a military-style Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle.

In an interview with WGN-TV, Dr. Ana Velez-Rosborough, a trauma surgeon who treated Cooper at Highland Park Hospital, said injuries from such weapons are “devastating.”

“They create very large wounds,” Velez-Rosborough told the TV station. “They basically destroy organs. They destroy soft tissue. They destroy bone. He received what we call massive transfusion — just an enormous amount of blood — in order to keep him alive during the operation.”

The boy’s aorta injury was so severe that a portion of it was removed and replaced with a synthetic graft, according to his family .

After doctors at Highland Park operated on Cooper after the shooting, he was airlifted to Comer the same day.

The Roberts family has said doctors at both hospitals “did extraordinary things to save Cooper’s life” and called it a “true miracle” that he’d pulled through.

The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with Cooper’s medical bills. As of Tuesday, $1.4 million has been raised.

“Please know the family is thankful for all the blessings they are receiving after this unimaginable tragic event but would trade all the blessings they’ve received for Cooper to not have to walk this terrible road of pain and suffering,” Georgette Topalis, a Roberts family friend, said on the GoFundMe page.

Cooper’s twin brother, Luke, was treated for leg wounds from shrapnel suffered in the shooting. Their mother, Keely Roberts, was shot and required surgeries for foot and leg wounds. Keely Roberts is superintendent of Zion Elementary School District 6.

Cooper, his brother, mother and father, Jason, all attended the Fourth of July parade.

“Cooper is the funniest little boy you’ll ever meet,” the boy’s older sister Payton Roberts said in a written statement last week. “He is silly and creative and, above all else, he loves everyone unconditionally and genuinely.”

Brett Chase’s reporting on the environment and public health is made possible by a grant from The Chicago Community Trust.

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