Highland Park mass shooting victim Cooper Roberts feels ‘hopeless, sad and angry,’ family says

“What will I do at recess?” paralyzed 8-year-old boy asks his family, who says “the reality of his life is setting in.”

SHARE Highland Park mass shooting victim Cooper Roberts feels ‘hopeless, sad and angry,’ family says
“Most people don’t witness the grueling aftermath of surviving these devastating wounds, physical and emotional,” Cooper Roberts’ family said Tuesday.

“Most people don’t witness the grueling aftermath of surviving these devastating wounds, physical and emotional,” Cooper Roberts’ family said Tuesday.

Provided

Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy paralyzed by a bullet at the Highland Park July 4 mass shooting, is receiving strong painkillers and undergoing demanding physical therapy, leaving him feeling “hopeless, sad and angry as the reality of his life is setting in,” his family said Tuesday.

Since the boy’s gunshot injury, which damaged internal organs and severed his spinal cord leaving him paralyzed from the waist down, the family has provided frequent written updates to the media that give a look at the up-and-down moments throughout his recovery.

On Tuesday, the Roberts family said it wanted to give the public a glimpse of what recuperating from a devastating gunshot injury looks like. Cooper is in “constant pain” and “starting to recognize the severity of his limitations,” adding it is “agonizing to see.”

“What will I do at recess?” the boy now confined to a wheelchair recently asked, according to his family.

“Most people don’t witness the grueling aftermath of surviving these devastating wounds, physical and emotional,” the Roberts family said. “We are constantly encouraging and motivating Cooper, seeking the positives and hanging on to hope, but we want people to know the unvarnished reality which is his/our new world.”

Robert E. Crimo III, 21, is accused of killing seven people and hurting dozens of others after shooting a high-powered military-style rifle into a crowd from a rooftop during the Highland Park July 4 parade. He faces more than 100 charges, including multiple counts of murder, and is being held without bail in Lake County Jail in Waukegan.

The Roberts family statement also noted there are “layers upon layers of cruelty with being shot by a sniper” but did not make any statements about gun rights or gun safety reform.

On Monday, the Highland Park City Council voted to encourage state and federal officials to pass laws aimed at curbing gun violence and mass shootings. Last week, the Lake County Board passed a similar resolution.

A bullet tore through Cooper’s body, damaging his liver, abdominal aorta and esophagus in addition to severing his spinal cord.

Cooper’s internal wounds are “slow to heal” and he is mostly on a liquid diet through a feeding tube, his family said Tuesday. Given the OK to eat limited solid foods, “he could only manage a bite or two before feeling too full and nauseous.”

After undergoing multiple surgeries and being treated at the intensive care unit at the University of Chicago’s Comer Children’s Hospital, the boy is now rehabilitating at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab (formerly the Rehabilitation Institute of Chicago).

His twin brother, Luke, and his mother, Keely, were also injured during the mass shooting in Highland Park.

“He desperately misses his twin brother Luke. He misses his family, his room, his toys, his friends, his dog and his school,” the Roberts family said.

“It is very hard to convince Cooper that he will be happy again,” the statement added.

Through GoFundMe, friends and supporters of the Roberts family have raised almost $1.8 million.

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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