Dakotah Earley celebrates his 24th birthday as family thanks neighbor who rushed to his aid

Dakotah Earley is turning 24 today, less than three weeks after his life nearly ended when a gunman shot him three times during a robbery in Lincoln Park.

“Although he has an uphill battle to overcome, he continues to improve with each day,” Earley’s family said in a GoFundMe campaign update Monday. “A couple weeks ago, we didn’t know if he would live to see another day, let alone another birthday. We are so grateful for the work God is doing in Dakotah’s life and how much love and support we as a family and Dakotah have been shown. We appreciate each one of you during this time.”

Also Monday, Earley’s mother, Joy Dobbs, met the Lincoln Park man who rushed to her son’s side and administered first aid after the shooting unfolded at Wayne and Webster around 3:05 a.m. on May 6.

“I wanted to meet the person who took the time and the courage to not only dial 911 but to come out and be with my son so that he was not alone,” Dobbs said at the meeting, the Sun-Times reported.

Dakotah Earley is seen in a family photo shared via his GoFundMe campaign on May 23, 2022. | GoFundMe

The neighbor who helped Earley, David Hussar, said the circumstances of shooting are not what he was expecting.

“At the time, I thought these two people knew each other because I didn’t think anyone could just shoot someone without some sort of history there. It was just so cold,” Hussar said, according to the paper.

Earley’s birthday comes one week after prosecutors charged 19-year-old Tyshon Brownlee with shooting and robbing him. Brownlee is also charged with committing four other robberies around the same time, although investigators believe he and his crew committed at least 20 other hold-ups.

No robberies that follow the crew’s method of operation have been reported since police arrested Brownlee.

Doctors amputated part of Earley’s leg due to complications from his injuries. A bullet severely damaged his jaw, which is now wired shut following surgery. Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) last week said Earley will require speech therapy and a voice box in the future.

Meanwhile, investigators are continuing to build cases they hope will result in charges being filed against at least one other person. A source familiar with the investigation said they believe Brownlee is part of a violent robbery team that works out of the Lawndale neighborhood near 18th and Avers.

The string of robberies that unfolded this month bears many similarities to another violent robbery surge that hit the same areas of Lakeview and Lincoln Park last year. After two people were shot in separate armed robberies two hours apart in Boystown on December 28 and 29, the hold-up crew moved its activities north to Edgewater, where armed robbers shot a witness during a hold-up on January 13.

A 17-year-old boy is charged with the Edgewater shooting and several of the robberies that occurred in the wintertime spree.

This month, the armed robbers initially focused on Lakeview and Lincoln Park, then moved to Edgewater, Rogers Park, and Uptown after Earley was shot.

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