8-year-old paralyzed in Highland Park shooting is in ‘very critical’ condition, family says

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CHICAGO — Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy paralyzed from the waist down after being wounded at the Independence Day parade shooting in Highland Park, is in “very critical” condition after undergoing his seventh surgery on Wednesday, a family spokesman said.

Though his condition after the surgery seemed positive and the boy was breathing over the ventilator, as the day progressed Cooper’s fever returned. A CT scan also revealed fluid building in his esophagus, lungs and now around his pelvis, the family said through their spokesman, Anthony Loizzi.

As a result of the complications, Cooper remains on a ventilator and breathing tube.

“Please keep sending love and prayers to my son as he continues to fight as hard as he can,” his mother, Keely Roberts, said in a statement.

Though Cooper had been taken off the ventilator and was conscious for the first time nearly a week after the shooting, doctors told the family that the tear in Cooper’s esophagus reopened and the boy had to undergo an “urgent, complex and lengthy surgery.”

The Roberts family, which also includes Cooper’s twin brother, Luke, shared that the boy’s condition was downgraded again as he struggled with a new infection and one of his lungs is partially collapsed.

“This is his seventh surgery and is of particularly high risk given his age and current condition,” Loizzi said. He added that the family “greatly appreciates all prayers for his recovery.”

Just last Sunday, the family thanked the emergency medics, police, fire department and medical staff that saved Cooper’s life. “It was a true miracle,” they said.

While it was initially believed that the boy had been shot in the chest, doctors at Highland Park Hospital released a statement saying that the bullet entered his abdomen and not his chest.

“The bullet entered his upper abdomen, injuring the left lobe of his liver, his esophagus near the stomach, his abdominal aorta and exited through his back injuring his spinal cord,” Highland Park doctors said in a statement Sunday evening. “At this point his critical, life-threatening injuries had been addressed and he was stable enough to be transferred to University of Chicago Comer Children’s Hospital for continued care.”

Cooper had remained in critical condition for nearly a week after the Fourth of July shooting with a severed spinal cord. His condition had been upgraded to serious and the family said the boy was conscious for the first time.

Cooper is “in a great deal of pain — physically and emotionally — especially as the family had to share with him the devastating news,” the family said.

Keely Roberts, who is superintendent of Zion Elementary School District 6, and her husband, Jason Roberts, attended the Fourth of July parade with their twins, Cooper and Luke.

Keely Roberts was shot in the foot and leg and Luke was wounded in the leg by shrapnel.

Even after undergoing several surgeries for injuries suffered in the mass shooting herself, Keely Roberts told doctors she needed to be discharged from the hospital she was in so she could be with Cooper, who was at a different one, Loizzi said.

Cooper has been described as a boy who likes to play sports and is a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers.

The twins attend Braeside Elementary School in Highland Park.

A GoFundMe page for the family is collecting donations. Loizzi said that during their difficult times the family has requested privacy and asked for financial support to ensure Cooper receives the proper treatment and therapy.

“The family is very grateful for the outpouring of support and well-wishes and asks for continued prayers for Cooper’s healing,” Loizzi added.

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