In the wake of the Highland Park Fourth of July parade mass shooting, the story of 8-year-old Cooper Roberts' survival was embraced by many following updates on the boy's recovery.
And more than a month after the massacre, Roberts is long out of intensive care-but his family says he is now in "constant pain" and "hopeless, sad, and angry" at the realization he is paralyzed.
In a sobering and gut-wrenching statement released Tuesday, the Roberts family said they want people to see the unimaginable struggle the 8-year-old boy now faces, all because of a high-powered military-style rifle fired indiscriminately into the crowd at a holiday parade. Robert E. Crimo III, 21, is accused of gunning down seven parade-goers that day and injuring dozens of others.
She Went Out for Pancakes-and Rescued Blood-Smeared Toddler at Highland Park Parade
"There are layers upon layers of cruelty with being shot by a sniper. Most people don't witness the grueling aftermath of surviving these devastating wounds, physical and emotional. We are constantly encouraging and motivating Cooper, seeking the positives, and hanging on to hope, but we want people to know the unvarnished reality which is his/our new world," the family said.
Cooper, they said, still has wounds that are "slow to heal" and stomach pain as he "relearns to process mainly liquid food." He is still on heavy painkillers and "is starting to recognize the severity of his limitations as he participates in daily rigorous physical and occupational therapy," the statement said, adding that Cooper has started "to ask things like, 'What will I do at recess?'"
It will still be "many weeks" before he is able to return to school, they said.
The 8-year-old underwent multiple surgeries after he was struck by gunfire at the Fourth of July parade, leaving his spinal cord severed and his liver, abdominal aorta, and esophagus damaged.
"It is very hard to convince Cooper that he will be happy again. Of course, we are beyond grateful for his survival, and we know others weren't as fortunate, but we want people to know his path/our path will be a very long and hard road," the family said.
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