HIGHLAND PARK, Ill. (WGN) — Eight-year-old Cooper Roberts, paralyzed after being shot during the Highland Park July 4th parade shooting, has returned to school after months of rehabilitation and transitioning.
Despite returning to school to start third grade, he remains in therapy each week and is still in a slow and gradual process of recovery, according to a statement from the Roberts family.
“It’s an incredible milestone for a little boy who almost three months to the day of his first day of third grade had been desperately fighting for his life from critical gunshot wounds and is now wheelchair-bound,” the Roberts family said.
The family shared a mix of emotions from celebrating a milestone for the eight-year-old starting a new school year to remembering the trauma they’ve gone through the past few months.
Cooper is also recognizing he won’t be able to socialize and participate in activities he once loved, like hanging on the monkey bars, sliding down the slide and kicking the ball, the family statement said.
He came home from his first day saying, “If I had not been shot, paralyzed, and had to be in a wheelchair, it would have been a perfect school day — but it was a really great day! I loved it,” according to the family’s statement.
Nonetheless, the family says the journey they are on is an uphill one.
Survivors of the mass shooting at a suburban Chicago Independence Day parade and family members of those killed filed 11 lawsuits last month against the manufacturer of the rifle used in the attack, accusing gunmaker Smith & Wesson of illegally targeting its ads at young men at risk of committing mass violence.
Prosecutors have said Robert E. Crimo III admitted to the parade killings once police arrested him hours after the attack. Authorities have identified Smith & Wesson’s M&P 15 semiautomatic rifle as the weapon he used to fire on the parade.
Crimo III faces 21 counts of first-degree murder, 48 counts of attempted murder and 48 counts of aggravated battery, representing those killed and wounded during the parade in Highland Park.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.