Kalamazoo Shooting: ‘Brain Dead’ Teen Upgraded To Critical Condition

A Kalamazoo shooting victim, who was declared brain dead, was upgraded to critical condition when she began responding to verbal commands. The 14-year-old girl is one of eight victims shot by Jason Brian Dalton in Kalamazoo County, Michigan, on Saturday evening.

MLive reports the devastating Kalamazoo shooting spree began at approximately 5:45 p.m. on February 20. According to witness reports, Dalton drove to the Meadows Townhomes and shot Tiana Carruthers, who was standing in the parking lot. Although she is expected to survive, the woman was hospitalized and remains in serious condition.

All Doctors said Abigail Kopf was not declared medically brain dead, despite reports https://t.co/dOXJ0st2bK Teen … pic.twitter.com/IOSWkiSce6

— cs2002 (@mrata23) February 23, 2016

Four hours later, he drove to Seeyle Automotive, where he shot and killed Richard Smith, 53, and his 17-year-old son Tyler in the parking lot. He then proceeded to a Cracker Barrel restaurant, where he opened fire on a third parking lot.

Jason Brian Dalton shot and killed Dorothy Brown, 74, Barbara Hawthorne, 68, Mary Jo Nye, 60, and Mary Lou Nye, 62, in the Cracker Barrel parking lot. He also shot and critically wounded 14-year-old Abigail Kopf.

Michigan State Police Lt. Dale Hinz confirmed the teen was rushed to Bronson Methodist Hospital, where she was pronounced brain dead on arrival. ABC News reports “the hospital was in the process of preparing her organs for donation” when she suddenly began responding to verbal commands.

Lieutenant Hinz said Abigail’s mother asked her to “squeeze her hand… if she could hear her.” A doctor then asked the teen “to give a thumbs-up if she could hear him.” As she clearly responded to the verbal commands, the “brain dead” teen was upgraded to critical condition.

Although her condition was upgraded, Abagail Kopf remains in critical condition. Her family confirmed she is on a ventilator and that her prognosis is unclear.

The teen’s condition brings to mind the case of Jahi McMath, who was declared brain dead following a surgery to correct sleep apnea.

According to reports, the 13-year-old girl experienced massive blood loss in the hours after the surgery was performed. As a result, she suffered cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived. She was declared brain dead at Children’s Hospital Oakland on October 12, 2013.

Although she was legally declared dead, and a death certificate lists her date of death as December 12, 2013, the teen has been on full life support for More than two years.

Jahi McMath’s current location is unclear, as she was moved between numerous medical facilities in the last two years. However, her family maintains a Facebook page titled “Keep Jahi McMath on Life Support,” where Jahi’s family periodically posts updates and photos. In their opinion, the teen is very much alive.

On several occasions, Jahi’s mother posted videos, which reportedly prove the teen is responding to verbal commands. However, in an interview with Mercury News, neurologist Neal E. Slatkin said the movements were clearly spontaneous.

“She’s brain-dead. She has no thought. She has no ability to control or interact with anything in her environment… She’s completely dependent on machines and forever will be.”

Although Jahi McMath was examined by numerous doctors, who all concluded she is, in fact, brain dead, at least one doctor has declared she “has shown brain activity.”


As reported by SF Gate, Dr. Alieta Eck admitted Jahi “suffered a serious, and significant brain injury… ” However, the doctor argued that the teen clearly has “some brain function,” as she apparently started puberty and has begun to menstruate.

Eck explains puberty is triggered by a part of the brain called the hypothalamus. Therefore, if she has entered puberty, at least one portion of Jahi’s brain may be functional, according to Dr. Eck.

Although the cases of Abigail Kopf and Jahi McMath are different in many ways, they both involve a teen who was declared brain dead under questionable circumstances.

It is unclear how or why doctors thought Abagail Kopf was killed in the Kalamazoo shooting. However, the mistake was realized and corrected within hours. Jahi McMath remains on full life support and has never regained consciousness.

Yahoo News reports Jason Brian Dalton eventually surrendered to police and was charged with 16 criminal counts, including attempted murder, murder, and numerous weapons charges. During a police interview, he fully confessed to the Kalamazoo shooting spree. However, he did not disclose a motive.

[Mugshot Image via CBS]