Police in Southern California have apprehended 2 suspects in a fatal road rage incident that shocked the nation. Six-year-old Aiden Leos lost his life last month when an unidentified motorist fired upon his mother’s car on the freeway. Now, authorities say they have the individuals responsible in custody.
Aiden’s mother Joanna Cloonan had been driving her son to his first day of kindergarten on the morning of May 21. Traveling north in the carpool lane of the 55 freeway, Cloonan was preparing to switch lanes when another car cut her off, she later recounted.
Cloonan reportedly flashed an obscene gesture at the driver of the car, a white Volkswagen Golf. In response, the car moved behind Cloonan’s Chevrolet Sonic, at which point someone inside fired at least one gunshot at the mother and son.
A bullet reportedly tore through the rear of Cloonan’s car and struck Aiden, who was sitting in a booster seat in the rear passenger side, through the abdomen. He was rushed to Children’s Hospital at Orange County, where he passed away.
At a press conference hours after the incident, Aiden’s sister Alexis Cloonan recounted her brother’s final moments.
“There was road rage on the freeway and someone pulled out a gun and shot my little brother in the stomach, and he said, ‘Mommy, my tummy hurts,'” she said. “So she went and she picked him up and he was bleeding on her, she had blood on her clothes. And then he started turning blue, and that’s when the ambulance took him. And that’s the last time my mom saw him alive.”
Hunting Aiden’s Killer
Your Assistance Is Needed!— CHPRiverside (@ChpRiverside) May 28, 2021
If you or anyone you know has information regarding the identity of the suspect and/or vehicle, we urge you to contact the @chp_santa_ana area office at (714)567-6000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org with information. #justice #help pic.twitter.com/0AtfkSzQb1
News of the shooting set off a furious hunt for the culprits in the following weeks, with the California Highway Patrol (CHP) releasing photos of the car the suspects were in. A reward fund for information on the case grew from $50,000 to $500,000 with the help of anonymous donors, government officials and community members.
Finally on Sunday, June 6, the CHP announced the arrest of 2 suspects: 24-year-old Marcus Anthony Eriz and 23-year-old Wynne Lee. While police didn’t release details of what led to the arrest, a source in the department told the LA Times that the pair had been under surveillance in the days prior.
Meanwhile, another anonymous law enforcement source told the Times that Eriz had previously posted photos to social media of a gun capable of firing the round that killed Aiden.
CHP Border Division Chief Omar Watson said an “indescribable outpouring of concern and hundreds of tips” led to the pair’s arrest. Eriz and Lee will appear in court on June 8, and will likely face murder charges, said the department.
Remembering Aiden Leos
The arrests came one day after a memorial service for Aiden held at Calvary Chapel in Yorba Linda, California. At the service, his family remembered him as a “little empath” who showed unusual compassion for others.
“I don’t get to play ‘Mario Kart’ with my little brother or take him to the park ever again, and that breaks my heart,” sister Alexis said. “Because of the monsters that took Aiden’s life, I will never get to hug my brother again. We were supposed to grow up together and help each other through life.”
Aiden’s mother eulogized her son while expressing gratitude to the community for their support throughout the family’s tragic ordeal.
“Your kindness, your prayers, your support and unbelievable generosity has helped provide me with so much strength, so I may stand on my own two feet today, in front of you, and share the beauty of who Aiden was and still is,” she said. “The joy he brought into our lives was insurmountable. My heart melted every time he laughed.”