Cooper Roberts, the 8-year-old boy who was paralyzed from the waist down after being shot in the abdomen by a gunman who opened fire during Highland Park's fourth of July parade, remains in critical condition but is showing positive signs of improvement, a family spokesperson said Monday.
"He is making some hopeful progress," the update from family spokesman Anthony Loizzi read Monday. "Cooper is still in the pediatric intensive care unit (PICU) and considered in critical condition, but the family is hopeful he will be moved out of the PICU later this week."
Cooper, who remains at Comer Children's Hospital in Chicago, has undergone at least seven surgeries thus far, wavering between critical and serious condition as doctors work to address a partially collapsed lung and damage to his esophagus, as well as fluid in his lungs and pelvis.
Doctors last week were encouraged when, after a long, urgent surgery Wednesday to reclose the original bullet-induced tear in his esophagus, Cooper awoke Thursday with no signs of fever or need for a ventilator. However, as the day progressed, his fever spiked up to 104, and a CT scan revealed the fluid build-up.
Monday, though, Loizzi noted that Cooper has been showing signs of improvement -- including being fever-free for 48 hours, and is breathing without the help of a ventilator.
Loizzi also said that Cooper, who's spine was severed, was able to sit up with the help of medical professionals -- a milestone in a long journey ahead. "[Cooper] sat up, with assistance, and took a brief first ride in a wheelchair over the weekend; sadly, something he will need to get used to," Loizzi's update read.
"It was very difficult and emotional for him and his family."
An ultrasound is planned for Monday to help the surgical teams determine next steps regarding the fluid in his pelvis, which remains concerning.
Cooper was attending the Fourth of July parade with his twin brother, mother and father when a gunman fired more than 70 rounds into the crowd. Cooper was struck in the abdomen and has suffered significant injuries, including a severed spinal cord, Loizzi previously said. He is currently paralyzed from the waist down.
"He is in a great deal of pain – physically and emotionally – especially as the family had to share with him the devastating news that he is paralyzed from the waist down," a statement from Loizzi read previously.
Cooper's mother, Zion Elementary School District 6 Superintendent Keely Roberts, and his twin brother Luke, were also struck by gunfire and injured in the shooting.
His mother 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 her son's side, Loizzi said. Cooper's brother, Luke' suffered injuries from shrapnel and was released from the hospital.
"The family wishes to acknowledge and thank the many, many people – emergency medics, police, fire department, nurses and doctors at both hospitals -- who did extraordinary things to save Cooper’s life," an earlier statement from the family read.
"It was a true miracle. And to thank from the bottom of their hearts the thousands who have prayed, sent gifts, supported the family in myriad ways and donated to the Go Fund Me campaign for Cooper’s long-term care:"