Elderly vet, 81, sucker punched, carjacked while delivering pizza in Chicago

An 81-year-old Vietnam War veteran who’s delivered pizzas in Chicago for 40 years said he was “sucker punched” and carjacked in a brazen attack on the city’s Northwest Side.

Ernie Aimone, who has worked for Joe’s Pizza for four decades, said he had just delivered a pizza in the Jefferson Park neighborhood when he was taken by surprise by a man who came up behind him.

He reenacted the attack for ABC7, saying he feared for his life and just stayed on the ground after being hit.

“They said, ‘gimme the keys, gimme the keys,'” Aimone told the news outlet. “And they sucker punched me from behind, hit me in the face. I was afraid for my life.”

He could hear the thugs take off with his car, a 2015 Hyundai Santa Fe which police recovered hours later with major damage.

Police confirmed the attack happened just after 9 p.m. and that Aimone had been hit in the back of the head.  A teenage suspect was arrested but others involved still were not apprehended, according to the report.

The veteran is considered a “local legend” according to Dan Ciolino with the Gladstone Park Chamber of Commerce which set up a GoFundMe for him. “He’s loyal to Joe’s for 40 years. Served our country. And he deserves our support in his time of need.”

Frank Demonte with Joe’s Pizza said Aimone is “like family to us.”

“He’s seen me grow up from very young. He worked for my Dad,” he said.

“Ernie’s very special to us. Always has been,” Gina Demonte told the outlet which reported that many customers request the 81-year-old to deliver their pizzas.

“Vietnam Veteran Ernie Aimone has been a fixture on the Northwest side of Chicago for over 40 years and been a part of the team at Joe’s Pizza for just as long – in fact he more than likely has delivered you and your family a pizza during that time if you ordered from Joe’s,” the GoFundMe page says of the retired U.S. Army Sergeant, explaining that he depends on the job as his main source of income.

“Ernie’s main source of income is through delivering pizza for Joe’s, and his insurance company wants to deny his claim, as he was carjacked while working,” the page continues.

As of this writing, over $43,000 of the $75,000 goal has been raised to help with Aimone’s needs and the purchase of a new vehicle. The pizza joint itself gave a $1,000 donation while one anonymous donor listed contributed $1,200.

“It could have been a lot worse,” Aimone’s daughter Robyn told the news outlet. “I don’t know what I would have done without him.”

Despite the harrowing ordeal, Aimone is determined to return to work once he can secure a new vehicle to make his pizza deliveries.

“I got a daughter and a son,” he said. “I gotta live for them.”

Aimone’s story generated plenty of reactions on social media.

Frieda Powers


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