This story originally was published Nov. 29, 2016.
SPRINGFIELD, Mich. -- The road to recovery has been long for Kalamazoo shooting survivor Abigail Kopf. At least now she has Batman on her side.
On Tuesday, Abbie, one of two survivors of a series of random shootings Feb. 20 in Kalamazoo County, was given a custom Batman-themed helmet by Springfield-based motorcycle shop Hot Rods and Handlebars. The helmet, primarily painted by the shop's general manager Art Solis, has Christian Bale's Batman from "The Dark Knight" Trilogy accentuated by black, yellow and orange colors as well as the superhero's logo.
A custom helmet paint job from the shop usually costs anywhere from $350 to $600, Solis said.
It was a treat for her mother Vicki Kopf, who said Abbie's Kalamazoo Wings-themed helmet requires regular cleaning with her needing to wear it daily to protect the area of her head wounded by a gunshot. Kopf, 15, however, said her favorite feature is that it doesn't include her name. She hopes it will quell some of the attention she receives.
"It's amazing that people are willing to go above and beyond to help Abbie out with special things like this," said Vicki Kopf, whose auto mechanic Dan Thompson set up the custom helmet paint job with the shop. "Knowing that she's stuck wearing a helmet for so long. We don't know when she's going to get her next plate. To have the community pull together and friends. For instance, my mechanic, he's just really generous. He offered to do it out of the kindness of his heart."
Solis and the Hot Rods and Handlebars staff presented the helmet to Vicki and Abbie Kopf as well as Abbie's boyfriend of about a month, 14-year-old Joe Paradine. Abbie smiled when Solis handed her the helmet, quickly examining it for her name, and thanked them in a quiet voice with it gripped in one hand.
The helmet was created in conjunction with Carquest, which supplies much of the shop's paint systems, and FinishMaster. It took about three weeks to finish the project, Solis said.
"If we can be a part of making her day a little bit better than it might have been yesterday, man, that's totally worth the price," Solis said. "In the scheme of things, we do a lot of big builds for bikes and stuff like that. When you get to help somebody, it feeds the soul and it feeds all the other stuff.
"If you can give back, you might as well give back."
Kopf was one of eight people shot over on the evening of Feb. 20. She is the sole survivor of an attack that day outside a Kalamazoo Cracker Barrel restaurant. The other four women Kopf was with — Barbara Hawthorne, Mary Nye, Judy Brown and Mary Jo Nye — were killed. Police say the shooting was part of a spree by 45-year-old Jason Dalton, accused of opening fire at an apartment complex, a car dealership and Cracker Barrel.
Dalton, 45, is awaiting trial on six open murder charges in Kalamazoo County Circuit Court.
Since the attack, Abbie, a Battle Creek native and former Harper Creek Middle School student, has had a few setbacks. Kopf was shot once in the top of the head with a bullet that exited and shattered the right side of her skull, her family said in March. She's undergone a number of surgeries since the shooting, including brain surgery, skin surgery and surgery to address an infection. Her family is hopeful she'll be able to have her next plate put in sometime in January.
Recently, Vicki said, her daughter also has felt some survivor's guilt, particularly for her "Grandma Barb," a grandmotherly figure to the family, though they were of no relation.
Asked about her recovery, Abbie said it was going "good," though her mother said it's not been as quick as they would have hoped. Still, she's already showing signs of a rebound. Kopf canoodled with Paradine for much of the visit to the motorcycle shop, not entirely unlike any girl her age, and posed for photos with the shop's staffers.
She also briefly mentioned how her Grandma Barb saved her life, for which she said she was grateful.
With the helmet in hand — formerly a plain one she'd wear while the other was being washed — Vicki Kopf said it was fitting it showcased one of Abbie's favorites, Batman.
"He's sort of a badass, but so is she," Vicki Kopf said.