BATTLE CREEK, Mich. (WOOD) — Years before a gunman’s random bullet nearly killed her, Abbie Kopf was lighting up YouTube.
“Hi guys, It’s me, Abbie. I just wanted to tell you I had a wonderful day at school. All my friends were having an awesome time,” announced a bubbly 11-year-old Abbie in one video.
It was uploaded to YouTube on Feb. 28, 2013 – about three years before a gunman would shoot eight people at random in and around Kalamazoo, including Abbie and four older women with whom she had attended a show earlier in the night.
As the Kalamazoo community marks one year since the deadly rampage, the recently rediscovered YouTube videos provide new perspective on how the rampage impacted the life of its youngest victim.
“Hi, I’m Abigail, and I’ll be doing some gymnastics for you,” Abbie said from the living room of her Battle Creek home.
In the video uploaded on July 11, 2013, Abbie performed handstands, cartwheels and back bends.
“If you need help trying to do it, just comment below and tell me to help you and I can help you learn how to do some,” offered Abbie in the video.
Abbie’s mom thinks the YouTube performance might be the last gymnastics her daughter does.
Her daughter, now 15, is still recovering from the bullet that tore through her brain as she sat in a restaurant parking lot. The bullet’s path left Abbie with some paralysis, weakening her left side to the point where she cannot steer a bicycle.
Another video posted on July 10, 2013, shows 11-year-old Abbie singing her heart out with a friend.
Doctors have said Abbie will likely always have limitations from the shooting; for instance, it’s unclear if she’ll ever be able to drive. However, they’ve also said there’s no reason she can’t live a full life.
‘I THINK SHE’S HAPPIER’
As the community pauses to remember the shooting that paralyzed Kalamazoo exactly one year ago, the Kopfs will spend the day quietly at home, together.
“I think she’s happier,” said Abbie’s mom, Vickie Kopf. “She’s been smiling more, and that’s been good.”
It’s been one week since doctors at Bronson Hospital re-inserted a plate where the bullet had shattered Abbie’s skull.
“I think it’s healing well this time,” said Vickie.
“(I’m) excited to have a skull,” said Abbie. “(I can) actually do things that are normal. (I) don’t have to be so careful.”
It’s not clear yet when Abbie will return to Harper Creek Middle School, but it cannot happen until the incision in her head is completely healed.
She hopes to get her stitches out Thursday so she can get on with her recovery.
The weekend before the Monday marking one year since the rampage, Abbie was enjoying the sunshine in the backyard of her home in Battle Creek, hanging out with her family, her pet pig, Snuffles, and her boyfriend of five months, Joe.
“She’s moving around more,” said Vickie. “She got up this morning and cleaned her room. She put her own shoes on, which is abnormal. She usually wants me to help.”
“That smile’s been hiding for a while, and now it’s back,” said Vickie as she hugged her daughter. “Mama misses that smile. I like seeing that smile back. That smile is my favorite.”