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Boy killed in road rage shooting on 55 Freeway in Orange was bright, loving, family says

Investigators on Saturday were vetting witness accounts of the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy on the 55 Freeway in Orange, as a portrait of the youngster began to emerge through family members.

California Highway Patrol investigators continued their search for a white Volkswagen station wagon and two occupants, a man and woman, and planned to work throughout the weekend in hopes of finding those responsible for the boy’s death Friday, CHP spokesman Florentino Olivera said.



“I know people were calling in yesterday, but they’re not sure if they were credible or not,” he said.

While investigators received some statements into Saturday morning, it wasn’t clear if dashcam or other video evidence that the CHP was hoping to gather had been captured and forwarded to the agency, Olivera said.

The boy, Aiden Leos, and his mother Joanna Cloonan were on their way to Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda on Friday morning, where Aiden was a kindergartner, said Carly Lacy, Aiden’s step-grandmother, on Saturday.

Aiden was a tender-hearted child with a big smile who loved playing with his trucks and action figures, Lacy said. Alexis Cloonan, his half-sister, had just given Aiden a Nintendo Switch video game system, Lacy said, and Alexis was devastated at the thought that he would no longer get to play it.

He just celebrated his 6th birthday on May 12, Lacy said.

She said she saw Aiden’s loving nature after babysitting him for a night about a year ago.

“When his mom came to pick him up, the way he held her and the way he hugged her with his arm around her neck, it was an embrace I’d never seen before,” Lacy said. “It really caught my eye because he was so tender, bonding and loving on his mother. That was so beautiful. I was able to see the connection was really special.”

Aiden Leos was in a booster seat in the back seat of his mother’s car when the shooting occurred. The bullet appeared to go through the trunk and hit the boy in the back, family members said.

Aiden’s mother said he told her his “tummy hurts,” and she pulled over to the side of the road, Alexis Cloonan told reporters on Friday night. Once she pulled Aiden out of the car, his mother dropped to the ground after she saw blood, Alexis Cloonan said. Witnesses and an off-duty police officer then pulled over to help the mother and child.

“My sister’s been through a lot. She’s a single mom,” John Cloonan, Aiden’s uncle, told reporters Friday. Then directing his remarks to the killer, he said, “You took her son away. This boy was full of love and joy and laughter.”



Aiden’s parents had split custody, Lacy said, adding that his father was very involved in his life and also was horrified by news of the shooting.

The white station wagon cut off the car Aiden was in to get into the carpool lane, said Reyes Valdivia, who along with his wife pulled over to help the mother and son. The mother told them she “flipped off” the car, and when she started transitioning to the right, the suspect vehicle slipped behind her before one of the occupants fired the shot, Valdivia said.

The CHP has not publicly verified those details but described the incident as a road rage attack.

Mourners on Saturday continued to leave teddy bears, flowers and signs at a memorial created in Aiden’s honor on the Walnut Street overpass to the 55 Freeway near the Chapman Avenue exit.

A GoFundMe page set up for Aiden’s mother had eclipsed $109,000 in donations by Saturday afternoon. Another GoFundMe page was started for Aiden’s father Saturday.

Source: Orange County Register

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