8-year-old suffered severed spinal cord in Highland Park shooting that also wounded twin brother, mom

  • Cooper Roberts, 8, was shot in the chest and his spinal cord was severed during Monday's Highland Park shooting.

    Cooper Roberts, 8, was shot in the chest and his spinal cord was severed during Monday's Highland Park shooting. Courtesy of the Roberts family

  • Three members of the Roberts family were wounded during Monday's Highland Park shooting, including 8-year-old twins Luke and Cooper, bottom left, and their mother Keely, far right. Also pictured are sisters Emily and Ella Roberts, far left and second from right, and their father, Jason, second from left.

    Three members of the Roberts family were wounded during Monday's Highland Park shooting, including 8-year-old twins Luke and Cooper, bottom left, and their mother Keely, far right. Also pictured are sisters Emily and Ella Roberts, far left and second from right, and their father, Jason, second from left. Courtesy of the Roberts family

 
 
Updated 7/7/2022 10:18 PM

Keely Roberts -- lying in a hospital bed with gunshot wounds to her leg and foot following Monday's shooting at the Highland Park parade -- gave the medical staff a choice when she learned her son Cooper had suffered a severed spinal cord and was in critical condition at a different hospital.

"She told her doctors and nurses that they should either discharge her or she'd walk out on her own, because she needed to be with her son," family friend Anthony Loizzi said.

 

Three members of the Roberts family were among the dozens injured in Monday's shooting, including 8-year-old twins Cooper and Luke, and Keely Roberts, who is the superintendent at Zion Elementary School District 6.

Cooper suffered the most significant injuries after being shot in the chest. According to Loizzi, designated by the family as a spokesperson, Cooper has undergone numerous surgeries, including one Wednesday night to close his stomach. Cooper is currently sedated and on a ventilator, in critical but stable condition, at Comer's Children's Hospital in Chicago.

Late Thursday, the web page for the GoFundMe fundraising campaign set up by friends to help the family handle medical bills and future therapy costs for Cooper was updated to say that doctors have determined the boy will be paralyzed from the waist down. As of Thursday afternoon, the fundraising campaign had raised more than $235,000.

Keely Roberts, who underwent two surgeries and was released against the recommendation of doctors, may need a third surgery due to issues with continued bleeding. Luke suffered shrapnel wounds to his lower body, but he was treated and released.

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Keely and her husband, Jason, who was unhurt, attended Monday's parade with their twin boys. Cooper and Luke have four sisters -- Payton, 26, Ella, 22, Grace, 21, and Emily, 18 -- but none of them were at the parade.

Officials have said the youngest people wounded in the shooting were 8 years old. Loizzi said Cooper and Luke attend Braeside Elementary School in Highland Park.

Loizzi said that while the family is struggling to process what's happened, they continue to rally around Cooper.

"They're devastated, but they're focusing all of their energy right now on Cooper," Loizzi said. "It's been a very emotional time for everybody in their circle.

"If you know Keely, she's just a fighter," he said. "And it sounds like Cooper got that part of her in him, because he's fighting as hard as he can."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

Loizzi said the family has asked for privacy, and that any messages or offers of help should go through Keely Roberts' school district office.

District 6 school board President Ruth Davis released a statement saying cards can be sent to Roberts' assistant, Kim Hall, at 2800 29th St., Zion, Illinois, 60099. Messages can be emailed to khall@zion6.org.

"For seven years in Zion District 6 and other area school districts for many years prior, Dr. Roberts has done everything she can to support the needs of students and families in our community," Davis said in the statement. "Now, she and her family need our help and support."

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