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Boy, 8, paralyzed in Highland Park shooting is showing signs of cognitive loss, his family says

Cooper Roberts, who was paralyzed from the waist down during the mass shooting at the Fourth of July parade in the Chicago suburb, is having short-term memory loss and a loss of acuity in fine motor skills, according to his therapists.
Image: At Least 6 Dead After Shooting At Fourth Of July Parade In Chicago Suburb
FBI agents work the scene of the shooting on July 5 in Highland Park, Illinois.Jim Vondruska / Getty Images

An 8-year-old boy who was paralyzed in the Fourth of July parade mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois, also appears to be showing signs of cognitive loss, his family said.

Cooper Roberts, 8, was shot in the abdomen by a gunman who killed seven people during the holiday celebration. He was paralyzed from the waist down. He may never walk again.

Cooper’s rehabilitation team is “seeing some patterns that may indicate cognitive loss,” according to a statement the family issued Thursday.

Cooper Roberts.
Cooper Roberts.Courtesy Roberts family

“Cooper wasn’t well enough or talking enough to notice these issues earlier while in the hospital. Therapists are seeing short-term memory loss, issues with word recovery, and loss of acuity around fine more skills,” the statement said. “They are doing a comprehensive neurological and psychological evaluation this week and working on new therapies.”

Cooper, a baseball aficionado and Milwaukee Brewers fan, was at the holiday celebration with his twin brother, Luke, and their parents when shots erupted in Highland Park, a Chicago suburb.

Authorities said the gunman used a semi-automatic rifle similar to an AR-15, killing seven people and wounding 48 others.

Cooper’s mother, Keely Roberts, was also shot, and Luke sustained shrapnel injuries. They are no longer hospitalized.

In an update last month, Cooper’s family said his summer has been difficult. Cooper transferred from recovery at Comer Children’s Hospital to rehabilitation at the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab. Both facilities are in Chicago.

“There are layers upon layers of cruelty with being shot by a sniper,” the family said in an Aug. 16 update. “Most people don’t witness the grueling aftermath of surviving these devastating wounds, physical and emotional. We want people to know the unvarnished reality.”

He faces constant pain, slow physical recovery and stomach pain that makes it difficult for him to digest solid food, the family said.

His family also said last month they don't want to downplay his hardships.

“It is very hard to convince Cooper that he will be happy again,” they said. “He’s an eight-year-old boy who feels hopeless, sad and angry as the reality of his life is setting in.”

Cooper’s family said during this week’s update: “We remain grateful for every prayer, kind wishes, gift and donation, and for the good moments when our family can be together.”