SPOKANE, Wash. - A Spokane teen is fighting for his life after being shot in the head by a stranger. Now his mother is speaking out.
Dakota's family has been by his side since the night this happened. His seventeenth birthday came and passed in the hospital.
His mother tells KXLY she's hopeful, but the family is also preparing themselves for a long and difficult recovery.
On Sunday night, in a snow storm, Dakota Runge took off on foot, headed to the other side of town to see his mom.
"He's a momma's boy," said his mother, Sharla Runge. "He was trying to get to me at my nephew's [home] and my daughter kept telling him, 'no, you're not, it's cold, you're staying here.'"
Sharla had a bad feeling, so she and her nephew drove around looking for him. Unfortunately, that mother's intuition was right.
Soon after, the family learned Dakota had been shot on Sprague Avenue, allegedly by 43 year-old Brice Bailey in a seemingly random crime.
When Sharla got to the hospital that night, "I just lost it," she said. "They had to take me back and sedate me."
But in the days that followed, Sharla has regained her strength.
"When I walked in that [hospital] room and [saw] my son, it was like a calmness just came over me, and I don't know, I've had it ever since," she explained.
In last few days, Sharla says Dakota has shown signs of responsiveness with nurses and family members.
"[His brother] Kyle was holding Dakota's hand, they had them interlocked, and Kyle was talking to Dakota, and he gripped Kyle's hand and raised their hands up in the air together," Sharla said. "They told me there was no brain activity or anything [at first]. We're Native American, and that's definitely a sign of hope to us."
His family describes Dakota as fun-loving and outgoing, someone you can never stay mad at.
"He's just a great kid," Sharla said, "great spirit, and strong, very strong."
And it's that strength that runs in the family that is keeping Sharla going for the sake of her son and her other three adult children.
"They're my life," Sharla said of her kids. "They're my world, and it would destroy us all if I fell apart. They'd fall apart, so I got to stay strong."
When Brice Bailey is seen in court, Sharla hopes Dakota can be there. If he can't, "we're going to face [Bailey] for him. He's going to know what he did, what he truly, truly did. He destroyed a family."
Bailey is charged with first degree assault, first degree attempted murder, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a controlled substance.
Sharla says she's especially grateful to the Good Samaritan who came outside of the Belair Hotel after the shooting and stayed with Dakota until police arrived. She believes this man saved her son's life.
Dakota will soon be brought out of sedation and given a feeding tube, and Sharla says they will see what happens from there.
Dakota's family set up a Go Fund Me page here. https://www.gofundme.com/2m-dakotas-needs