An 8-year-old boy who attended Monday's Fourth of July Parade in Highland Park with his mother, father and twin brother is paralyzed from the waist down after a gunman allegedly fired more than 70 rounds into the crowd, a spokesperson said for the family on Thursday.
"Cooper Roberts was shot in the chest and suffered significant injuries, including a severed spinal cord," family friend Anthony Loizzi said at a news conference.
The family later confirmed on their fundraising page that doctors have determined that Cooper had been paralyzed from the waist down.
After undergoing several surgeries, Cooper had previously been sedated and on a ventilator, in critical but stable condition. However, in an update Friday, the family said his condition has since improved.
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"Cooper’s medical status has been upgraded to serious, which is a very positive development. He is conscious for the first time and been removed from the ventilator, but in a great deal of pain," the update said.
"At this time, the doctors do not believe that he suffered any brain damage or cognitive impact from the shooting," the update continued.
According to the family, Cooper is alert, and is asking to see his twin brother Luke, and his dog George.
Cooper was air-lifted from the parade and taken to an area hospital, where he underwent several surgeries, including one Wednesday night in which "doctors were able to close up his belly," Loizzi said.
Cooper's mother, Zion Elementary School District 6 Superintendent Dr. Keely Roberts, and his twin brother Luke, were also struck by gunfire and injured while at the parade.
Dr. Roberts was struck in the foot and leg area, underwent several surgeries and was released from the hospital at her request so she could be by Cooper's side, Loizzi said.
"She told her doctors and nurses that they should either discharge her or she walked out on her own because she needed to be with their son," Loizzi said.
Luke suffered injuries from shrapnel and was released from the hospital.
More than $700,000 has been raised for Cooper to help with medical bills and therapy.
"The little guy is fighting as hard as he can," his family said. "We are hopeful that he will be ok, but we know his medical bills will be significant as will the therapy that will follow. Please pray that Cooper will recover as best as possible."
"It's been a very emotional time for everybody in their circle," Loizzi said. "And, you know, if you know Keely, she's just a fighter. It sounds like Cooper got that part of her. He's fighting as hard as he can."
Seven people were killed and dozens others injured during the massacre at the Highland Park parade. The alleged shooter has been charged with seven counts of first-degree murder and is currently being held without bond, according to Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart.