Report: Path of bullet may have saved teen’s life

Kalamazoo and Battle Creek
Abigail Kopf 022216_192898

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The family of the youngest victim of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage is seeing another promising sign from her recovery.

In a Friday update to Abigail Kopf’s GoFundMe page, her father said the 14-year-old’s sense of humor is still in tact.

“She smiled and stuck her tongue out at the doctor today. She still has a sense of humor and playfulness,” Gene Kopf stated.

Doctors say the gunshot that left Abigail near death may have also saved her life.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reports 14-year-old Abigail Kopf was hit by one bullet during the Feb. 20 shooting outside the Texas Township Cracker Barrel. That bullet went through the top of her head and out of her body, shattering the right side of her skull.

Doctors told her parents that her shattered skull gave her brain room to swell, which may have saved her life, the Enquirer reported.

Abigail was the lone survivor of the shooting; the four women she was with, 62-year-old Mary Lou Nye, 60-year-old Mary Jo Nye, 74-year-old Dorothy Brown  and the 68-year-old woman her family lovingly dubbed Grandma Barb, were all killed by gunfire.

The Battle Creek Enquirer reported doctors had called Abigail’s time of death and filed out of the room when her mother thought she heard her daughter breathing.

Vickie Kopf told the Enquirer hours later, her daughter kept tracing the letter B on her palm. When Abigail’s father asked if she was asking about Grandma Barb, Abigail repeatedly slapped her mother’s hand.

Kopf spoke about the heart-stopping phone call telling her Abigail was shot in head and thinking her daughter was dead. She said she didn’t want to talk about what she saw when she got to the hospital, saying “no horror movie will ever match it” and that “it’s an image no human being will get out of their head.”

“Every night when I close my eyes, that’s the image I see. And I don’t know if it will ever fade,” she added.

A Sunday update to Abigail’s GoFundMe page said she was able to breathe on her own and wipe her face with a towel.

>>Inside Complete coverage of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage

On Monday, she was upgraded from critical to serious condition. Tuesday, she improved to fair condition. A Wednesday update to Abigail’s GoFundMe page stated she opened her eyes and recognized her parents Tuesday night.

A relative told 24 Hour News 8 Thursday Abigail is expected to be moved to Grand Rapids, where she will undergo rehabilitation for six months. According to her GoFundMe page, Abigail’s parents are looking for reliable transportation to make the trek from Battle Creek to Grand Rapids during her treatment.

Her parents said doctors initially advised against telling the young teenager about Barbara Hawthorne’s death; her parents told the Enquirer they still haven’t told her.

Rich Smith and his 17-year-old son, Tyler were also killed in the shootings, which police believe were random. The first victim, 25-year-old Tiana Carruthers who was wounded while shielding her children, is also beginning the long road to recovery.

Abigail’s father is expected to be at the Democratic debate in Flint this weekend. 24 Hour News 8 was told he will ask a question about gun control.


Online: Battle Creek Enquirer

**Correction: A previous version of this article misspelled Vickie Kopf’s first name. The error has been corrected.

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