14-year-old Kalamazoo shooting survivor walking, playfully sticking out her tongue
After bullets struck 14-year-old Abigail Kopf in a Cracker Barrel parking lot in Kalamazoo, Michigan, her heart stopped.
Nearly two weeks later, there’s no stopping her.
“There’s no keeping this girl down!!” a Friday morning post on a Go Fund Me page set up by a family friend read. “Abbie continues to make unbelievable improvement.”
Specifically, the post noted that the teenager can now walk with some help “and at one point even stroked a nurse’s ponytail.” Her spirit seems to be strong as well, as evidenced by a post later Friday “about our warrior from her father.”
“She smiled and stuck her tongue out at the doctor today,” that message read. “She still has a sense of humor and playfulness.”
Kalamazoo’s Bronson Methodist Hospital reported Friday that Abigail was in fair condition, having been upgraded earlier this week. And no one is doubting she still has a long, tough road ahead of her.
Still, she and her family have good reason to celebrate the fact she’s gotten this far.
Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies told CNN affiliate WOOD that Abigail’s heart had stopped, until doctors at the hospital got it beating again. Her family kept her on life support over that first, arduous weekend so her organs could be donated.
That’s when her mother, Vicki, got her first reason to believe — when Abigail suddenly squeezed her hand.
The mother described that moment as “breathtaking. … A miracle on its own.”
Mother: ‘Abigail has a lot of spitfire in her’
Abigail was already an exception given that she even made it to the hospital alive, when so many other victims of the five-hour February 20 shooting spree in Kalamazoo did not.
Authorities allege that Jason Brian Dalton, in between picking up fares as an Uber driver, fired first from one vehicle then, after going home and switching cars, opened fire from another. No motive has been given thus far, just as there’s no indication that he knew any of his victims.
The first victim — and the only other person, besides Abigail, who survived the shootings — was Tiana Carruthers, who was shot at a playground in front of her children.
Dalton then allegedly killed Richard Smith, 53, and his son Tyler, 17, at a car dealership.
The final stop on his rampage came outside the Cracker Barrel. Four good friends died then — Dorothy Brown, 74; Barbara Hawthorne, 68; Mary Lou Nye, 62; and Mary Jo Nye, 60 — having gone to the chain restaurant to pick up their cars after reportedly attending a performance at a local university.
Abigail wasn’t related to any of them, but was particularly close to Hawthorne, who would introduce the seventh-grader as her “adopted niece.” Bullets struck the girl as she sat in the passenger seat of a car in the parking lot.
The girl’s name initially wasn’t released, but her family soon went public — and kept people informed with posts on the Go Fund Me page. There, they’ve documented her milestones, like breathing on her own and opening her eyes.
“I think Abigail has a lot of spitfire in her,” her mother Vicki told the Battle Creek Enquirer, in a story linked from the Go Fund Me page. “Because she was not ready to go yet, and she’s got many more things that she wants to do.”