‘It feels good,’ teen says 6 months after taking 3 bullets to save pal
BY KIM JANSSEN Staff Reporteremail@example.com December 25, 2012 8:44PM
Rony Monzon, 14 (right), was shot three times in July when he jumped in front of his neighbor, Daneysi Valdovinos, 14, taking three bullets that would have struck her in the head. | Scott Stewart~Sun-Times
Updated: January 27, 2013 6:29AM
The sound of gunfire could again be heard inside Rony Monzon’s Brighton Park home Christmas Day.
You could call it a return to normality.
This time, the bullets weren’t real — just the sound effects from the latest installment of the hit video game, “Call of Duty,” a Christmas gift from Rony’s mom, Diana.
Nearly six months after Rony, 14, took three bullets to save a pal’s life, his mother’s frayed nerves had settled enough to tolerate the violent video game.
“I want to play with the TV hooked up to the sound system — it’ll sound like I’m having a war back there!” Rony said, laughing.
His youthful high spirits are a blessing for his family. In a year in which nearly 500 Chicagoans have been murdered, they say, just having him around was the best gift they could have hoped for.
Though police haven’t made any arrests in his high-profile shooting, Rony professes no interest in finding out who shot him in what detectives think was a case of mistaken identity.
But signs of the incident were there for all to see in the cozy front room of his family’s home in the 2400 block of West 47th Place. A framed plaque from the Cook County Board, honoring his heroism, is displayed next to a wooden trophy from the U.S. Army, noting his “personal courage and selfless sacrifice,” and, looming over the Christmas tree, there is a massive black-and-white studio photo of a smiling Rony, proclaiming him “Chicagoan Of The Year.”
Chicago Magazine handed him that last honor — alongside five other inspirational hometowners — earlier this month at a “beautiful” ceremony at the Peninsula Hotel, his proud mom said.
Like many others, the magazine’s editors were moved by details chronicled in the Chicago Sun-Times about how the Phoenix Military Academy freshman saved his downstairs neighbor, Daneysi Valdevinos, 14, then bounced back from him injuries with a remarkable sense of humor that allowed him to joke within hours of the attack that he was a “Terminator,” impervious to bullets.
Rony and Daneysi were sitting on a bench outside their front door, listening to Mexican music on July 11 when a gang member who likely had gotten lost in the alley behind the home opened fire. Rony jumped to his feet, taking bullets in his arm and chest that Daneysi is certain would otherwise have struck her in the head.
“When I’m in my room and when I go to sleep, I remember the shooter’s face and I get goose bumps,” she said Tuesday.
Despite that, both she and Rony seem surprised by the city’s response to his heroism. Both collapsed in a fit of giggles when Daneysi saw the giant photo of Rony for the first time.
Still, Rony said, “It’s nice to be noticed — our neighborhood doesn’t get talked about much.”
Rubbing the scar on his arm where one of the bullets passed through, and smiling shyly, he added, “It feels good.”