'I'm heartbroken and sad': Mom of boy paralyzed in parade shooting speaks publicly for 1st time

While they boy's twin brother was not shot, their mother said his psychological injuries are profound

ByMichelle Gallardo and ABC7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Thursday, July 28, 2022
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Cooper Roberts' recovery has been difficult, but his family remains optimistic, his mother said in her first public statement since the shooting.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The mother of 8-year-old Cooper Roberts spoke publicly for the first time since her son was paralyzed in the Highland Park Fourth of July shooting.

It is hard to imagine what this family has been dealing with these last few weeks. Not only was 8-year-old Cooper Roberts paralyzed in the shooting. His mother was also seriously injured that day. Cooper's twin brother, Luke, also not only witnessed the horror of it all, but was hit by shrapnel as well.

"I'm heartbroken and sad, but it is a losing question to ask why? There is no good answer," Dr. Roberts said.

SEE MORE: Highland Park shooting: Paralyzed 8-year-old back in critical condition, completes 7th surgery

It's been just over three weeks since the shooting at Highland Park's Fourth of July parade that paralyzed the young boy from the waist down after a bullet severed his spine.

"Our son Cooper was shot in the back and the bullet exited his chest, which did significant damage throughout his body, including to his aorta, liver, esophagus and spinal cord. He has endured and survived multiple surgeries," Dr. Roberts said.

Dr. Keely Roberts said her son's condition has gone up and down since the shooting, but she is thankful for the people who risked everything for her son, especially those present in the immediate aftermath of the shooting who she credits with keeping him alive.

"There were countless people who didn't think twice and ran back. Ran back into the scene and helped us," she said from Comer Children's Hospital Wednesday. "Cooper would not be alive today if it were not for the acts of these people who just risked everything to ensure that this little boy lived."

That sense of gratitude, she said, extends to those at Highland Park Hospital, and at Comer, who have gotten him to where he is today.

Cooper's condition remains somewhat unstable. He has improved, then slipped back into critical condition, and undergone numerous surgeries. Despite the inconsistency, the family remains optimistic about his recovery.

Seven people were killed and more than 30 others were injured when a gunman opened fire during the holiday event.

Roberts' twin brother and their mother were also injured in the shooting.

Along with her worry for Cooper, Dr. Roberts also worries for his twin brother Luke. While Luke was not shot, she said his psychological injuries are profound.

"He has been so traumatized by feeling responsible to keep his mother alive in an active shooting from a sniper on the roof," she said. "He's traumatized from watching front and center what happened to his twin brother."

But despite the trauma, Dr. Roberts believes that at the end of the family's long journey, her son will "teach a whole lot of people that the lesson in this is not that one person did this horrible thing, but that thousands of people did great things, kind things."

Cooper has undergone multiple surgeries, and while he's been allowed to leave his hospital room briefly, his condition has been fluctuating and he's still in the intensive care unit at Comer Children's Hospital as he continues to recover.

In a statement to ABC News, Dr. Roberts said they hope Cooper can be transferred to Shirley Ryan Ability Lab soon.

"The fact that Cooper is still here with us today is a miracle. He has taught me so much. I am amazed at the enormous number of people who don't know us, who don't even live in this state, and who are sharing such extraordinary acts of kindness to help him and our family," she said.

Friends of the family have started a GoFundMe campaign to support medical needs.