CHICAGO (REUTERS) – An eight-year-old boy suffered a severed spinal cord from a gunshot wound to his chest in the July Fourth attack on a Chicago-area parade that left seven dead, a family spokesman said on Thursday (July 7), with his twin brother and mother 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, a family spokesman said.
It wasn’t immediately clear how many of at least 46 people sent to hospitals after the attack have since been released.
Cooper’s twin brother, Luke, was hospitalised with shrapnel wounds in his lower body but discharged after doctors removed some of the debris.
The boys’ mother, Keely Roberts, suffered gunshot wounds to her legs and feet, the spokesman, Anthony Loizzi, told reporters on 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, according to Loizzi, a colleague of the mother, who is superintendent of a Lake County elementary school district.
Cooper, a normally “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, 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, in order to be with her son at the children’s hospital, Loizzi said.
The boy has undergone several operations, including one on Wednesday night in which surgeons “finally closed his belly”, the spokesman said.
Although not informed about the specifics of Cooper’s prognosis, Loizzi told reporters the boy’s mother and an adult sister spoke about how “it will be a new normal for him going forward”.
“He’s fighting as hard as he can,” 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 apprised of the severity of his twin’s condition.
Loizzi said both boys “loved the parade” and had attended the event in the past, but he did not know where along the parade route they were when the gunshots were fired.
Friends of the family established a GoFundMe page seeking to help address their medical bills.
The Roberts were not the only family suffering multiple casualties from the bloodshed in Highland Park, Illinois.
Among those killed were Irina McCarthy, 35, and her husband Kevin McCarthy, 37, whose two-year-old son was found wandering unhurt physically, but alone and orphaned after the attack.