BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — The youngest victim of the Kalamazoo shooting rampage was released from the hospital on Tuesday.
A hospital spokesperson said in a release that 14-year-old Abigail Kopf’s condition has improved and she is now moving to an inpatient rehabilitation facility in Grand Rapids.
“The pace of her progress is exceptional,” Dr. Aaron Lane-Davies, medical director of Bronson Children’s Hospital, said in the release.
He said Abigail has a long journey ahead, but her signs of improvement are very encouraging.
As she fights to recover, Abigail’s classmates want her to know that they are behind her.
That’s why the student government at Abigail’s school in Battle Creek, Harper Creek Middle School, initiated the “Hats Off to Abigail Day.” Students, who are normally forbidden to wear hats, are allowed to wear whatever headgear they choose in exchange for a dollar donation that will go to Abigail’s GoFundMe account.
“We just want her to feel as good as she can and that she can just take her time to recover and we’re all, if she needs help or anything, everyone here would love to just give her the support that she needs,” said Katrina, a classmate of Abigail’s and president of the student council.
Abigail went to a show at Kalamazoo’s Miller Auditorium with her “Grandma Barb” Hawthorne and three other friends — Mary Jo Nye, Mary Lou Nye and Dorothy Brown — the night of Feb. 20, then returned to a car left in the Texas Township Cracker Barrel parking lot, where police say Jason Dalton opened fire on them. Abigail was the only one of the five victims at that location to survive. She sustained a gunshot wound to the head that shattered her skull.
Dalton had already allegedly shot and wounded Tiana Carruthers at a complex of townhomes in Richland Township and then killed father and son Rich and Tyler Smith at a car dealership in Kalamazoo before the shooting at the Cracker Barrel.
Abigail has not only survived the devastating injuries, but has also made a recovery that her doctors say is a testament to her fighting spirit.
Her amazing recovery is completely in keeping with her character, according to the middle school counselor who knows her.
“It does not surprise me one bit that she has fought and improved and done so well because truly Abbie was unique, she is an individual and she doesn’t give up,” said Kalyn Critchlow, Harper Creek Middle School counselor. “She’s stubborn – in the very most positive way possible.”
The fundraiser is scheduled for the middle school Friday, March 18. The school has heard from other schools and other districts who want to join in. Critchlow said the middle school is acting as the organizer for any school or business that wants to participate whether it’s on March 18 or another day.
“We want pictures of all the schools that are participating, so for example we’ll have a picture with kids wearing hats and a sign will say ‘Hats Off to Abbie from Harper Creek Middle School,’ ‘Hats Off to Abbie from Marshall Middle School,’” Critchlow said. “We want to flood her with pictures of the schools that are participating to show just how many of us there are that are thinking of her, praying for her, care about her and want to see her get better.”
Critchlow says every penny raised will go to Abigail’s official GoFundMe account, which as of Tuesday had topped its goal of $50,000 by nearly $4,000.
Anyone wishing to participate in the “Hats Off to Abigail” effort or donate to help Abigail through the school can email Critchlow.
With a lengthy recovery expected to take place at Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids, the expenses for the Kopf family are certain to continue to mount.