The Kalamazoo shootings, a horrifying event that unfolded on February 20, 2016, shook the community as Jason Brian Dalton went on a senseless shooting spree, claiming six lives. Amidst the tragedy, Abigail Kopf emerged as one of the two survivors, enduring grievous injuries that demanded extensive hospitalization. Appearing on ABC’s ’20/20: The Deadly Ride,’ Abigail bravely recounted the details of that night, shedding light on the impact it had on her life. The shootings prompted heightened awareness about public safety and the potential dangers associated with ride-sharing services. The Kalamazoo community rallied together in the aftermath, emphasizing the importance of resilience and support in the face of such events.
What Happened to Abigail Kopf?
On the evening of February 20, 2016, Abigail attended a Chinese acrobat show in Kalamazoo alongside Barbara Hawthorne, whom Abigail regarded as a grandmother figure. Accompanying them were three additional companions of Barbara: Mary Jo Nye, Mary Lou Nye, and Dorothy Brown AKA Judy. Following the show, the group proceeded to have dinner at a Cracker Barrel restaurant in Texas Township. At approximately 10 pm, Jason Dalton arrived at the Cracker Barrel parking lot. As the group was leaving the restaurant and seated in the car, he approached Mary Lou Nye, asking her a question before shooting her and her sister-in-law, Mary Jo Nye.
Subsequently, he targeted the adjacent car where Abigail, Barbara, and Judy were sitting, opening fire on them as well. Barbara, displaying quick thinking, pushed Abigail to safety under a seat, a decision that ultimately spared Abigail from the immediate danger. Upon the arrival of the police, Abigail was found unconscious with a gunshot wound to her head. While Barbara provided information on how to contact Abigail’s parents, she succumbed to her injuries from the gunshot wounds. Vicki Kopf, Abigail’s mother, received a phone call at nearly midnight, informing her that Abigail had been shot in the head. Rushing to the Bronson Methodist Hospital, the family discovered Abigail in the ICU, and within a couple of hours, the monitor flatlined.
Facing the heartbreaking scene of doctors and nurses administering CPR, Vicki found it difficult to watch and requested them to stop, preparing herself to say goodbye. Convinced that Abigail might not survive, they took her off the ventilator. However, in a surprising turn of events, Abigail clutched her mother’s hand, and a faint heartbeat became audible. Reacting quickly, Vicki called the medical staff back, and they resumed tending to Abigail. The following days were critical for Abigail, and she remained reliant on the ventilator until February 23. However, by February 28, she showed progress and was able to breathe on her own.
On March 3, Abigail opened her eyes, and on March 8, she was transferred to the Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital. Despite the positive strides, she had to return to Bronson Methodist Hospital due to damage to a part of her skull caused by the shooting. A metal plate was implanted to address the issue. She was eventually discharged from the hospital in July 2016. Facing challenges, including a skin infection in August 2016, Abigail underwent further surgery, which was promptly resolved.
Abigail Kopf is Leading a Healthy Life Today
In a 2019 interview, Abigail revealed that certain parts of her childhood were blank, with only a few pre-shooting memories retained. Even after emerging from the coma, she experienced memory issues, frequently forgetting recent events and asking her mother the same questions multiple times. Abigail expressed that she no longer feels normal, grappling with the inability to perform activities like riding a bike and doing cartwheels, which were once second nature to her. Finding out about Barbara’s death deeply saddened Abigail, and she expressed enduring gratitude for the woman who played a crucial role in her survival that fateful night.
Recognizing that it was Barbara’s quick thinking that saved her life, Abigail couldn’t bear to dwell on the actions of Jason Dalton. At times, she even contemplated the idea of trading places with him, hoping he could comprehend all that she had endured. Despite the challenges, Abigail has managed to reclaim aspects of a normal life, showcasing remarkable resilience. She regained the ability to walk, talk, and eat, returning to her studies and attending her homecoming dance in a beautiful purple dress in 2017. Abigail’s journey stands as a testament to courage, recovery, and inspiration for all who hear her story.