One of the youngest victims injured in the Highland Park shooting, 8-year-old Cooper Roberts, is in critical but stable condition at a Chicago hospital after being shot in the chest, a family spokesperson said Thursday.
Cooper was attending the parade with his family, including his twin brother, Luke, and his mother, Keely Roberts, and suffered “significant injuries,” including a severed spinal cord, family spokesperson Anthony Loizzi said at a news conference Thursday.
Cooper has undergone multiple surgeries and is currently sedated and on a ventilator at the University of Chicago Medicine Comer Children’s Hospital, according to Loizzi.
His mother was shot twice in her leg and foot and underwent at least two surgeries before she was released from the hospital, Loizzi said. When she was told about Cooper's spinal cord injury after waking up from surgery, Roberts insisted she be released from the hospital to be by Cooper's side.
Cooper’s brother, Luke, also suffered injuries from shrapnel and is recuperating at home. Keely Roberts is the superintendent of Elementary School District 6 in Zion, Illinois, and the family lives in Highland Park.
Cooper "loves sports" and is an active baseball fan, especially of the Milwaukee Brewers, Loizzi said. The Roberts family, which also includes four older sisters, is trying to find ways to heal and support Cooper, whose prognosis after multiple surgeries is still unclear, according to Loizzi.
“They’re devastated, but they’re focusing all their energy on Cooper,” he said. “He is fighting as hard as he can.”
►Authorities in Lake County have released a photo that shows the Kel Tec SUB2000 gun that was found inside the shooting suspect's vehicle after he was arrested. The gun that was used to shoot dozens of people on the Fourth of July was a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle.
► Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said he planned to bring attempted murder and aggravated battery charges for each individual who was hurt, physically and/or emotionally. “There will be many, many more charges coming,” he said.
Here's what we know Thursday:
Father of Highland Park shooting suspect had 'no inkling' of rampage plan
The father of the Highland Park parade shooting suspect said Thursday that he had "no inkling" that his son was capable of the rampage that left seven people dead and dozens wounded at the Fourth of July celebration.
“I had no – not an inkling, warning – that this was going to happen,” Robert Crimo Jr. told ABC News. “I am just shocked.”
Crimo said he never saw his son, Robert “Bobby” Crimo III, as a danger to anyone. He was dismissive of a September 2019 incident when his son threatened "to kill everyone,'' leading police to briefly confiscate 16 knives, a dagger and a sword.
"I think (that was) taken out of context,” Crimo said. “It's like just a child's outburst, whatever he was upset about, and I think his sister called the police. I wasn’t living there.”
Three months later he filled out the consent form to allow his son to go apply for a gun owner's permit from the Illinois State Police. He said he does not regret it, adding that his son purchased the weapons with his own money and registered them in his own name.
“Had I purchased guns throughout the years and given them to him in my name, that's a different story," the father said. "But he went through that whole process himself.”
A lawyer for the the suspect's parents downplayed the couple's involvement in the case and said they are being "1,000% cooperative" with investigators. Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart said he “doesn’t want to answer” the question right now of whether the parents will face charges.
GoFundMe for orphaned child nears $3 million
Billionaire hedge fund manager Bill Ackman donated $18,000 to a GoFundMe page for Aiden McCarthy, the 2-year-old boy whose parents – Kevin McCarthy, 37, and Irina McCarthy, 35 – were killed in the parade shooting. The community-driven fundraiser for the toddler was nearing $3 million as of early Thursday. Ackman, founder and CEO of Pershing Square Capital Management, donated under the name "William Ackman," his office confirmed to Fortune and Insider. His office didn't immediately respond to a request from USA TODAY.
– Scott Gleeson
First funerals set for Friday
The first funerals for those killed in the shooting are set for Friday. A memorial service for Jacquelyn "Jacki" Sundheim, 63, will be held Friday morning followed by a shiva at North Shore Congregation Israel where she was a dedicated congregant and staff member, according to her obituary. Chicago financial adviser Stephen Strauss, 88, will also be laid to rest at Jewish Reconstructionist Congregation on Friday afternoon, according to an online obituary. Relatives of Eduardo Uvaldo will travel from Texas and Mexico to attend his burial Friday on what would have been his 70th birthday, the New York Times reported.
– N'dea Yancey-Bragg
Lawyer for gunman's parents had vented on Twitter after shooting
Hours after the shooting, lawyer Steve Greenberg posted a tweet saying Highland Park was "where I grew up and raised my kids. WTF is wrong with people. No one needs these high powered weapons!!!!! F @tedcruz, Mitch McConnell and all like them"
Two days later Greenberg was working for the suspect's parents and his tweets reflected more empathy. The parents, Robert Crimo Jr. and his wife, Denise, "share everyone’s desire to figure out everything that went wrong so that this doesn’t happen again, to more innocent people, children, and families," Greenberg wrote.
Greenberg acknowledged Crimo Jr. had helped the suspect obtain a gun owner's permit in 2019 but stressed that State Police renewed the gun card when he turned 21. The "bigger question," Greenberg wrote, is why are military grade assault weapons available for anyone to purchase. Greenberg also issued a statement on behalf of the parents saying "our hearts, thoughts and prayers go out to everybody.”
Discovery of rifle was key to suspect's capture
In the chaotic moments after the shooting stopped, the gunman initially evaded capture by dressing in women's clothing and blending into the panicked crowd, Lake County Major Crime Task Force spokesman Christopher Covelli said. Surveillance video showed someone running with a black bag over the shoulder immediately after the shooting, Lake Count Assistant State's Attorney Ben Dillon said. While the individual was running, an object wrapped in cloth fell to the pavement. Authorities identified the object as a Smith & Wesson M&P15 semiautomatic rifle, Dillon said. One round was in the chamber, but there was no magazine inserted.
Authorities traced the gun left at the scene to the suspect, he said, and within hours released his photo with the warning that he could be armed and dangerous.
A neighbor later saw him in the vehicle and called 911. A few hours after the shooting, a police officer pulled over Crimo a few miles north of the shooting scene and he was taken into custody without incident, Covelli said.
Mass shootings are trending younger. Experts have some idea why.
Some do it out of a perverse desire to make a difference in the world. Others are driven by mental illness, pandemic isolation or social media influences that turn them into hateful and sadistic monsters. But there's one increasing commonality among America’s mass shooters: Their youth.
“They are trending younger. The 'why,' of course, is going to take a bit more research,” said Katherine Schweit, a former FBI agent who until 2017 headed the bureau’s Active Shooter Program. “But it appears that so many of them are crying out for attention – living through pandemic stress and getting indoctrinated online. And, you know, looking to be famous.” Read more here.
– Josh Meyer, USA TODAY
4 members of same family wounded during parade carnage
Zoe Kolpack was standing with her family Monday morning along the Highland Park parade route when she heard the first gunshot. Then, a bullet shattered the 28-year-old woman's femur.
Her father tried to shield her with his body and was struck, too. Amid the chaos, her husband and her brother-in-law were also hit by bullets. All were recovering from their wounds.
Just one family's harrowing story was recounted by family friend Samantha Whitehead, 28, in an interview with USA TODAY as she sat beside Zoe Kolpack in her hospital room.
"It was horrible," Whitehead told USA TODAY. "Horrific." Read more here.
– N'dea Yancey-Bragg
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Highland Park live updates: 8-year-old 'fighting as hard as he can'