CITY HALL — The mother of Dakotah Earley, who was shot and robbed in Lincoln Park, finally was able to meet the man who rescued her son — and greeted him with a hug Monday.
Earley, 23, remains hospitalized and could face more surgeries as he recovers from the May 6 attack. Neighbor David Hussar awoke early that morning to gunshots; he looked outside and saw someone stand over Earley and shoot him, he said.
Hussar grabbed a first-aid kit, ran to Earley’s side and called 911, he said.
“I told him to hold on and not to give up,” Hussar said. “He was in a lot of pain, face down, I could tell he was the most seriously injured person I’ve ever seen in my life.”
Hussar was honored by Ald. Brian Hopkins (2nd) during a Monday morning ceremony at City Hall with Earley’s mother, Joy Dobbs. Hopkins gave Hussar an award, and Hussar and Dobbs hugged. She read a letter she’d written to Hussar that morning.
“I wanted to meet the person who took the time and courage to come out and be with my son so that he was not alone,” Dobbs said. “Your thoughtfulness is a gift, and my family and I will treasure you forever.”
Hopkins said Earley “continues to make excellent progress.” Dobbs said her son is “getting better every day.”
Earley recently had another surgery close to his abdomen, Dobbs said. He is communicating mainly through hand gestures and writing, she said.
Earley had a partial leg amputation and reconstructive surgery for his jaw. Doctors are considering if they need to further amputate Earley’s leg so he can fit a prosthetic, Dobbs said.
Despite Earley’s injuries, Dobbs said his warm and gracious personality remains.
“He always has his manners,” Dobbs said. “Before his jaw was wired shut, he said, ‘Thank you.’”
Tyshon Brownlee, 19, has been charged with attempted murder in connection to Earley’s shooting. Police and prosecutors have said Brownlee robbed and shot Earley during a spree of robberies that culminated in the shooting. Brownlee has also been charged with armed robbery.
Earley identified Brownlee in a photo lineup, prosecutors said.
Hopkins said the investigation is ongoing and there are “excellent leads” as investigators search for others who might have been part of the robberies and shooting.
Hussar’s home camera system has been “instrumental to identify other people of interest,” Hopkins said. Video of the shooting was widely shared immediately after the attack.
“I’ve responded to acts of armed violence as a representative of this government more times than I ever thought I would. It’s horrific,” Hopkins said. “It hurts my heart and makes me ashamed of my city. … Solutions seem so elusive right now.”
Dobbs, who grew up in Chicago, said she suffers PTSD from gun violence during her childhood.
“Now, watching my son get gunned down, I don’t think it’s ever been scarier,” Dobbs said. “Watching my son on video get gunned down, it’s taken me to places I’ve thought I’m actually over.”
Now, Dobbs said she’s just happy to share her birthday Tuesday with her son.
“Dave is my hero. He’s Dakotah’s hero. I was nervous, but I’m so glad that he was there, because I wouldn’t have my son with me,” Dobbs said. “And tomorrow is Dakotah’s birthday, and it’s my birthday, too. We’re just glad to have another birthday together.”
Dobbs said she’s been in the hospital with her son, reading him messages from his online fundraiser, which has raised more than $120,000. His favorite message so far was, “Dakotah, you’re a beast,” she said.
“His eyebrows just go up,” Dobbs said.
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