By LOU FOGLIA
Homicide Watch Chicago
Kiev Dobbins was a young man with adult responsibilities, family members said. He worked two jobs—three if you count the continuous care of his ailing grandmother, who suffers from dementia.
Dobbins kept track of her medications and shopped for her groceries, all while working as a driver for Uber and a clerk at the Edwardo Leamon Cigar and Hookah Lounge in south suburban Richton Park.
Each Thanksgiving, Dobbins would bake sweet potato soufflé, his mother’s favorite dish, and a tradition he started a few years ago when the family began celebrating at home instead of on the road.
“His family was everything to him. It really was,” Dobbins’ mother, Kesha McClurkin, said.
But this Thanksgiving will be different for Dobbins’ family. There will be no sweet potato soufflé, and no Dobbins. The 24-year old was fatally shot in the 8900 block of South Laflin on Sept. 18.
Officers responding to a call of shots fired about 2:25 a.m. found him lying in a gangway with multiple gunshot wounds, according to Chicago Police and the Cook County medical examiner’s office.
Dobbins, who lived a block away in the 9000 block of South Laflin, was pronounced dead at the scene, authorities said.
When Dobbin’s mother moved to Antioch, Tennessee, in 2014, her son stayed behind in Chicago. McClurkin said he wanted make sure his grandmother was cared for.
“Whatever she needed done, he would do it,” McCklurkin said. “That was who he was.”
Dobbins held the same level of care for his three younger siblings, who moved back to Chicago with McClurkin in September 2015.
Family members said he would play games with his siblings and wrestle with his little brother whenever he came home.
When Dobbins bought a new pair of shoes—he made sure his siblings had the same pair—regardless of the cost. Last year, he worked double shifts at the cigar shop so he could afford to buy his sister Maya a new pair of Air Jordan shoes for her 10th birthday.
“Kiev loved his brothers and sisters. He didn’t have kids so these were his kids,” McClurkin said.
Dobbins also took care of his mother—he just didn’t know it. She said her son was her “best friend” since she was 16.
“He was the first real reason to open my eyes in the morning,” McClurkin said. “He kept me out of trouble—I know it’s supposed to be the other way around, but he was my guiding light. Everything I did I ran back to him.”
That’s why on the evening of Sept. 18, McClurkin texted her son after she didn’t hear from him. She said she knew he worked the closing shift at the cigar shop, but when 2 a.m. arrived, and there were still no calls, she became worried.
Early the next morning, she awoke to a knock at her front door.
“I had this feeling … I knew something was wrong with Kiev,” she said.
She opened the door to find her mother, crying, alongside a Chicago Police officer.
“I let her in, and she said ‘It’s Kiev’,” McClurkin recalled.
Police later told McClurkin her son had gotten off work early that evening. He was with a friend when several men approached, chased him into a gangway and shot him, according to McClurkin. The friend was not harmed.
“This doesn’t have to keep happening every week,” McClurkin said when asked about the death of her son and recurring violence in her community. “I want this to end. Whatever it takes, count me in. I’ve got three more babies and I’m ready to get out of Illinois. Get right back out of here—right now.”
For McClurkin, raising her son was not easy. She worked overnight shifts as a certified nursing assistant at Mount Sinai Hospital when Dobbins was growing up. She divorced her husband when her son was 13, and several moves ricocheted the family around the South Side.
But McClurkin said it was worth it.
“Everything I’ve ever done, he deserved it,” McClurkin said. “He deserved for me to struggle. My body would hurt but everything was worth it. I never had a day of trouble. No police, nothing—all good things,” she said.
That was true. Police told McClurkin her son had no criminal background.
“They said for him to be that way he had to be a standup man—and he really was,” she said.
Dobbins attended Morgan Park High School on the South Side, but later graduated from a home school program. He attended East-West University and Governors State University, where he was working toward a degree in radiology.
But when McClurkin lost her job in 2013, Dobbins’ education plans were put on hold, though he continued to work to help his family.
Dobbins’ uncle, Aaron Jordan, said his nephew went out of his way to help the family. He said he will miss his nephew’s smile—among other things. But most of all, he will miss what was to come.
“I’ll miss the opportunity I was going to have to watch him grow—grow into the person I knew he was going to be,” Jordan said.
Area South detectives are investigating, but there have been no new leads into the killing, according to the family.