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Eight-year-old Highland Park victim hospitalized with a severed spine

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An 8-year-old boy shot during the Fourth of July parade in Highland Park, Ill., remains hospitalized in critical condition, his spinal cord severed.

Cooper Roberts is sedated and on a ventilator at a Chicago children’s hospital, family spokesman Anthony Loizzi said during a Thursday news conference. The elementary school student is among the youngest victims of the mass shooting that left seven dead and dozens of others injured.

“It’s going to be a new normal for him going forward,” Loizzi said, at times growing emotional. “They’re not sure, due to the severed spinal cord, whether or not he’ll be able to walk again in the future.”

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Also injured were Cooper’s mother, Keely, and his twin brother, Luke. Luke Roberts suffered shrapnel injuries, Loizzi said, and is recovering at home after being released from the hospital. Keely Roberts, who serves as superintendent of Zion Elementary School District 6, was shot twice in the leg and foot.

She was discharged from a hospital Wednesday after undergoing surgery. She had insisted on being released, Loizzi said, and has been focused on her son’s injuries.

“After she had her second surgery and then she received news that Cooper’s spinal cord had been severed, 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,” he said.

The twin boys are the youngest of Keely and Jason Roberts’ six children. The two “loved the parade,” Loizzi said. He did not know the details of how the family was injured or where they were standing along the parade route.

Cooper, a sports lover and the smaller of the twins, was shot in the chest and taken to a hospital by Life Flight, according to an update Zion Elementary School District 6 shared with community members. He has gone through several surgeries, Loizzi said, “including one last night in which doctors were finally able to close up his body.”

As of Thursday, an online fundraiser had received more than $235,000 in donations for the family. Loizzi said the Roberts, who are expected to face significant medical expenses, appreciate the support they’ve received and are leaning on each other.

“They’re devastated, but they’re focusing all of their energy right now on Cooper,” he said. “It’s been a very emotional time for everybody in their circle, and if you know Keely, she’s just a fighter. And it sounds like Cooper got that part of her in him, because he’s fighting as hard as he can.”

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