GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Exactly two months after being shot in the head during the Kalamazoo shooting rampage, Abigail Kopf is home in Battle Creek.
The 14-year-old girl left Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital in Grand Rapids Wednesday after six weeks of daily therapy. People clapped as she walked down the hall to leave.
“Let’s go,” her mother, Vickie Kopf, said, holding Abbie’s hand. “We don’t need that stinkin’ wheelchair, do we?”
“No,” Abbie said.
Abbie and her mom were escorted home by Freedom Motors USA, a Battle Creek company that provides wheelchair-accessible vans. Freedom Motors is just one of the many businesses and individuals who have reached out to help the Kopfs.
On the way home, the family stopped off at Thornapple Kitchen in Middleville so Abbie could enjoy her first meal outside of the hospital. The restaurant surprised the Kopfs by picking up the bill. A copy of their receipt read, “Paid in full by the Thornapple Kitchen staff. Glad to see you out and about, warm wishes for a speedy recovery!”
ABBIE: ‘I’M WITH MY FAMILY’
Abbie’s grandmother met her at the door of her Battle Creek home and hugged her.
“Oh, honey, it’s so good to see you,” she said. “I missed you. I missed you so.”
“I missed you, too, Nana,” Abbie replied.
She couldn’t talk in the immediate aftermath of being shot. Her voice is still soft, but it is clear and steady.
“I love” being home, Abbie told 24 Hour News 8 as she sat in her living room. When asked what she loved the most, she replied immediately, “I’m with my family.”
At one point, it seemed she would never return home. The night she was shot, Abbie flat-lined. Doctors at Bronson Methodist Hospital called the time and left the Gene and Vickie Kopf alone in the room to say goodbye to their daughter. That’s when Vickie lay her head on her daughter’s chest and thought she heard a heartbeat. She was right.
Later that night, she whispered to Abbie, “If you can hear me, let me know,” and Abbie entwined her fingers with her mother’s and squeezed.
In a video produced by Mary Free Bed before she left, Abbie said she was excited to see friends and pets, including her pig, Hamlet.
Abbie got to see Hamlet soon after she got home and also reached out with a smile to stroke the family’s pet cat, Basil.
“Hi, kitty,” she said. “Is it OK if I pet you?”
Abbie’s mom previously told 24 Hour News 8 the teenager is looking forward to home-cooked meals; however, Abbie will continue to rely on a feeding tube for now. Last week, she was still struggling to speak at an audible level, and she still has trouble with paralysis in her left arm and hand.
“GRANDMA BARB” KILLED IN SHOOTING SPREE
Abbie was the youngest victim in the Feb. 20 shooting rampage that killed Mary Jo Nye, Mary Lou Nye, Dorothy Brown, Barbara Hawthorne, and father and son Rich and Tyler Smith. Tiana Carruthers, who was also seriously injured in the shooting spree, continues to recover.
A photo of Hawthorne, who Abbie called “Grandma Barb” even though they are not related, hangs on the wall of the Kopfs’ living room.
“Barb, she was an amazing woman. Free-spirited,” Vickie Kopf said on Wednesday. “I’m going to miss her horribly and it’s so hard to talk about her because I miss her so much. I think about her all the time.”
Hawthorne wouldn’t let doctors work on her until she made sure they knew how to reach Abbie’s parents.
“I will love her forever,” Vickie Kopf said. “She always has been my angel. The only thing I can say is I love you, Barb, and I will miss her.”
Abbie has not talked in any detail about the loss of Hawthorne or what happened to her on the night of Feb. 20, but she does know a man shot her.
She still has a long road to recovery, including reconstructive surgery to replace the portion of her skull that is missing. Her father said she will continue to see a doctor from Mary Free Bed at least until she’s 18.
The family has launched a Facebook page where they are updating Abbie’s progress often. “Home at last!” a Wednesday post read.