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Father of Slain Man 'Felt Like the Earth Opened Up and Swallowed Me In'

ENGLEWOOD — Vaughan Allison Sr. got the call no father wants to get.

His son Vaughan Jr. was at Stroger Hospital. And he'd been shot.

Allison rushed from his job Downtown to be at his son's side at the West Side hospital.

"Vaughan told me to calm down. He said, 'It will be all right'," Allison said. "There wasn't a lot of people around, so I assumed it wasn't that bad."

It was then that Allison heard his younger son, Devell, "yell out in pain" from another hospital bed, where he lay shot in his back. It was the first time he realized both of his sons had been shot.

Allison alternated between his sons' bedsides, but then he watched as the blood that doctors gave Vaughan would immediately flow out of him. He tried to tell the 20-year-old to "be strong."

Soon, a doctor told him that Vaughan was not retaining blood and that the measures that the emergency room staffers were taking to save Vaughan were "not going to work for him."

So Allison made the decision to halt treatment for his son.

"He wasn't going to live comfortably ... so we stopped the blood. He fought as long as he could."

Allison watched his son's heart rate increase. Then he held him as he took his last breath.

Recalling his son's last moments in a recent interview, Allison choked up.

"It was the absolute worst possible feeling of hopelessness," he said.

"There was nothing we could do for him. No way to save him. I felt like the earth opened up and swallowed me in,” Allison said.

Then came Allison's next worry: How to tell 16-year-old Devell his brother died.

Devell, though, "has been remarkably strong. He comforted us," he said.

The two brothers were with a friend on their porch when a man walked up to them and started talking to them, Allison said. Moments later the man pulled out a gun and fired about 13 shots at them.

Allison said he believed the friend was the intended target and his sons were "collateral damage."

As he lay in his bed at Stroger recovering recently, Devell was in a jovial mood as he remembered the day of the shooting.

“It was a nice day outside," Devell said smiling, despite the tubes hooked up to him.

"I didn't think I was going to be shot. I thought it was going to be my lucky day. Until that first bullet came," he said. "It wasn't painful, so I thought it was minor. There was a lot going through my head."

Devell said after he was shot he felt like 50 Cent, "just another rapper getting shot."

Devell and Vaughan were both members of the Thot Boyz, a rap group with some local buzz. Devell goes by the moniker "Thot Boy Vell," while Vaughan went by "Thot Boy VA."

Allison had supported his sons' music even, though he said it was "not my cup." He helped pay for their videos and helped them buy the rights to the name, "The Thot Boyz."

"I appreciate the effort," Allison said, but warned his sons to "watch who you do it with," saying  other rappers in Chicago "do things to make [their music] authentic."

"As far as the music goes, many of these kids take their gangbanging and beef to and from these recording [studios] and videos."

He said he didn't believe the shooting had anything to do with other big-name rappers who come from the blocks around where they were shot, like Lil Durk or Chief Keef, who have gang affiliations.

"They couldn't even stay in the neighborhood if they made songs with them," the father said. "Words and alliances are powerful, while also being a powder keg ... so association with the wrong people obviously can cause irreparable harm."

Allison said Chicago kids are emotionally invested in "unimportant things" and lack "tangible goals."

"They cling to the collective mentality that street life and all that comes with it is the one and only thing they should praise, accept and pursue," Allison said.

Despite initially felling like he was just "another rapper getting shot," Devell said he experienced what he called "the greatest feeling in the world" when he received his high school diploma last month.

"It's something I’ve been waiting on for a long time," Devell said, adding the principal at Chicago Bulls College Prep High School personally brought the diploma to his bedside at the hospital.

Devell had a 3.5 GPA and plans to attend Western Illinois University in the fall, his father said.

"I'm excited to hear new things, meet new people and the freedom," Devell said. He also looks forward to "getting away from the Chicago area," something he's always wanted to do.

Devell's mood turned somber, though, when his thoughts turned to Vaughan, whom others considered his twin "minus the dreads." Vaughan may have "gotten on my nerves," but he was also "my teacher," Devell said.

"My parents used to not let me go anywhere without him," said Devell.

While Devell was in the hospital, Allison did his best to shield him from social networks to ensure there were no retaliation shootings. Still, the Thot Boyz Facebook page and Twitter feed were full of comments claiming "#VAWorld" a hashtag Devell said will keep his brother's spirit alive.

"We're all living in his spirit. He's gone, but not forgotten," Devell said.