Dakotah Earley has returned home. Credit: Joy Dobbs/Twitter

LINCOLN PARK — Dakotah Earley, the 24-year-old culinary arts student who was robbed and shot in Lincoln Park last month, is out of the hospital’s intensive care unit and continuing to recover.

“Praise God,” Earley’s mother, Joy Dobbs, wrote on Twitter, announcing he had left Illinois Masonic’s I.C.U.

Earley was ambushed May 6 by a pair of robbers. One gunman shot him twice in his back and once in his head. A neighbor who witnessed the ambush rushed to his aid until paramedics arrived. The ambush was caught on surveillance video.

Throughout his recovery, he’s had his leg partially amputated as well as surgery near his abdomen and on his jaw, which was wired shut for a reconstruction, Dobbs said. He’s been communicating mainly through hand gestures and writing.


Dobbs, who did not immediately return a request for comment Thursday, spoke publicly about her son last week during a ceremony honoring the neighbor who rushed to Earley’s side after the shooting.

David Hussar, who lives near where the shooting happened, awoke that morning to the sound of gunshots. He looked outside and saw one of the robbers stand over Earley and shoot him, he said. Hussar grabbed a first-aid kit, ran to Earley and called 911.

“I told him to hold on and not to give up,” Hussar said. “He was in a lot of pain, face down.”

Dobbs hugged Hussar during the ceremony at City Hall and read a letter she’d written to show her appreciation.

“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.” 

Joy Dobbs embraces David Hussar, the man who came her son’s aid on a Lincoln Park street. Credit: Mack Liederman/Block Club Chicago

Tyshon Brownlee, 19, has been charged with attempted murder in Earley’s shooting. Police and prosecutors say Brownlee robbed and shot Earley during a spree of robberies that culminated in the shooting. Brownlee has also been charged with armed robbery.

Ald. Brian Hopkins, who lives in the neighborhood and has been in contact with Dobbs almost every day since the shooting, said police have “excellent leads” as investigators search for others who might have been part of the robberies and shooting.

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.” 

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.  

Jake Wittich is a Report for America corps member covering Lakeview, Lincoln Park and LGBTQ communities across the city for Block Club Chicago.