Breaking: Second suspect in custody for robbery, shooting of Dakotah Earley one year ago

CHICAGO — One year after the cold-blooded shooting and robbery of culinary student Dakotah Earley rocked Chicago, detectives have arrested a second person to face charges in the case.

Area Three detectives arrested the newly-charged man on Monday. He was 17 at the time of the crime but has since turned 18 and is expected to appear for a bail hearing Tuesday afternoon.

Even though he will not be accused of personally shooting Earley, Chicago police secured attempted murder charges against him through the state’s Law of Accountability. That provision holds all participants in a crime responsible for what happens. He is also charged with armed robbery, possessing a stolen motor vehicle, and misdemeanor criminal trespass to a vehicle.

“I’m excited,” Earley’s mother, Joy Dobbs, said Monday evening. “It’s been a long time coming. Still, I guess, kinda sad because it makes you remember what took place.”

Today’s development comes exactly one year after Chicago police arrested the man they believe confronted Earley in the 1300 block of West Webster on May 6, 2022, and then shot him repeatedly at close range.

Dakotah Earley takes a step with his new prosthesis in December 2022 (left) and a video frame showing the start of the robbery. | Joy Dobbs; Provided

Tyshon Brownlee, 19, was arrested on May 15, 2022, and is still awaiting trial on charges of attempted murder and multiple counts of robbery in connection with the crimes against Earley and other robbery victims who were targeted in a holdup spree.

A nearby surveillance camera recorded the confrontation as Earley and the gunman fell to the pavement early on May 6, 2022. Then, the robber shot him repeatedly at close range while demanding the password to his phone.

The person arrested on Monday is believed to be the driver of the getaway car, who also got out of the vehicle briefly as Earley struggled with the primary robber in the street.

“I’m sad, too,” Dobbs confided Monday night, “because these men are so young.”

Doctors initially believed Earley might not survive his injuries. He underwent a series of surgeries and doctors had to amputate part of one leg in the wake of the shooting. After spending four months in the hospital and rehab facilities, Earley finally went home in September.

Earley continues down the path to recovery with ongoing physical therapy sessions, Dobbs said. But he was finally able to take a trip to see family back home in Atlanta for the first time since the shooting.

Dobbs and her son share the same birthday, May 24.

“My mother told me this is a great birthday gift for both of you,” Dobbs recalled as she reflected on news that the second suspect was in custody. She said the family is “ready to put this to bed and move on with our lives.”

Allegations

Officials said last year that they believed Brownlee and his crew were responsible for committing a weeks-long spree of at least 20 robberies across the North Side. Prosecutors charged Brownlee with five of them.

In one case, a 22-year-old woman was walking, talking on her phone, and wearing over-ear headphones when Brownlee grabbed her headphones and pointed a gun at her on the 3000 block of North Racine around 10 p.m. on May 5, Assistant State’s Attorney James Murphy said during Brownlee’s bail hearing last year.

He took her bag and phone, hung up the call she was on, then ordered her to reveal the phone’s password while holding her at gunpoint and counting backward from five, Murphy continued.

Suddenly, Brownlee saw another woman walking home from work across the street. According to Murphy, he ran over to her, pointed a gun at her head, took her phone, and demanded her password. She complied and then ran home. The woman told her friends what happened but didn’t call the police until days later when someone showed her a news report about Earley’s shooting.

As Brownlee escaped in a small white car, the first woman memorized its license plate and repeated it over and over in her head until she got home and wrote it down, Murphy said. The car, CWBChicago previously reported, had been taken from another robbery victim targeted on the 2900 block of North Clark the night before.

After the holdups, Brownlee accessed the first victim’s iCloud, took money from her Venmo, changed her social media accounts, and tried to use one of her credit cards, Murphy said. Investigators who subsequently recovered the stolen BMW found the second victim’s work ID in the back seat.

Minutes after robbing the women, Brownlee pointed a gun at a 20-year-old man’s chest on the 2900 block of North Racine and ordered him to give up the password while aiming the weapon at him, Murphy said. The victim complied and Brownlee took his wallet, too.

As Brownlee climbed into the back seat of the BMW, he threatened to come back and “pop” the man if the password didn’t work, Murphy alleged. The man’s stolen credit cards were used repeatedly over the next 24 hours. According to Murphy, video cameras captured Brownlee using a card during at least one transaction. A police officer recognized Brownlee from the footage.

On May 6, Brownlee robbed a DePaul University student at gunpoint on the 1100 block of West Fullerton as the 18-year-old walked to his dorm room, Murphy said.

Minutes later, at 3:05 a.m., Brownlee allegedly ambushed Earley on the 1300 block of West Webster. Exactly what happened was captured on a gut-wrenching video.

Police turned their attention to Brownlee on May 10, 2022, after he was shot while riding in a car on Michigan Avenue near The Bean, according to multiple law enforcement sources. Someone dropped Brownlee off at a hospital for treatment, and investigators quickly found a “definitive” link to the North Side robberies. But Brownlee had left the hospital when detectives arrived to speak with him.

Murphy said Brownlee admitted to the crimes.

Last fall, CWBChicago reported that Brownlee had been known to Chicago police detectives since November 2021, when two email addresses containing his name were linked to a string of violent robberies across the North Side.

Chicago cops spotted the robbery crew’s vehicle at least five times between November and the assault on Earley, but officers broke off their engagement each time. One of those police terminations occurred about an hour before Earley was shot. Earley is now suing the city for allegedly failing to apprehend the group earlier.

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CWBChicago was created in 2013 by five residents of Wrigleyville and Boystown who had grown disheartened with inaccurate information that was being provided at local Community Policing (CAPS) meetings. Our coverage area has expanded since then to cover Lincoln Park, River North, The Loop, Uptown, and other North Side Areas. But our mission remains unchanged: To provide original public safety reporting with better context and greater detail than mainstream media outlets. Our editorial email address is news@cwbchicago.com