The family of a six-year-old boy who died after being shot during a suspected road rage attack while he was sitting in his car booster seat on a Southern California freeway on Friday morning have thanked the public after more than $130,000 was raised in just 24 hours.
Aiden Leos was in the rear of the family car being driven to school by his mother when another motorist cut her off while traveling in the car pool lane of the northbound side of State Route 55, in Orange, southeast of Los Angeles.
Aiden’s mother Joanna Cloonan was said to have given the other driver the finger in her rear view mirror, but the gesture set off a deadly and tragic chain of events.
A GoFundMe page set up for Aiden’s family and to help with her child’s burial costs had raised more than $130,000 just 24 hours after it was set up.
On Saturday evening, Aiden’s mother, father and sister gave said they wanted to express their appreciation for the ‘loving support’.
‘While their lives are shattered in a million pieces they are strengthened knowing the world is wrapping their arms around them! THANK YOU!’
A second fundraising page has been set up by a friend of Aiden’s father which revealed the heartbreaking moment he was told of his son’s death.
‘Aiden Leos also had a loving father whom was very much in his life,’ wrote Lily Dinh on the GoFundMe page.
Six-year-old Aiden Leos was killed by a bullet while riding in the back of his mother’s Chevy sedan on Friday morning
Aiden, center, in a photo posted to a GoFundMe page to raise money for his family. His mother Joanna Cloonan, believed to be the woman on the left, and sister Alexis, right, are said to be distraught
Aiden’s distraught family are begging for justice with Aiden’s older sister, Alexis Cloonan, pictured center, describing him and someone who was full of ‘love, joy and laughter’
A GoFundMe page set up for Aiden’s family and to help with her child’s burial costs had raised more than $130,000 just 24 hours after it was set up
Aiden’s father ‘is now trying to figure out what is left for him when he worked long days and even took on extra work to help provide for his son,’ she wrote.
‘To get a phone call while at work from the CHP, to his heart racing only to think something happened to his son and then finally rushing to the hospital but it was too late.
‘No last goodbye and no more smiles, hugs, or I love you’s. This is something a parent should never have to go through. He is so heart broken that even a picture or the thought of his lil boy makes him break down.’
Nearly $4000 had been raised on the second GoFundMe page by Saturday evening.
On Saturday, mourners left teddy bears, flowers, and messages of support for the family at the E. Walnut Avenue overpass near where Aiden was shot.
Signs saying ‘Rest in peace baby boy,’ and ‘You were loved more than you know’, were left, along with handwritten notes to the family.
‘This is a single mom with two kids, she’s broken, and she’s going to need help,’ Aiden’s aunt, Carol Ybanez, told NBC Los Angeles.
‘Please help us find the people that did this to my little brother. he’s only six and he was so sweet. He was a very loving boy so please help us find who did this to him,’ Alexis pleaded through tears
Aiden’s mother quickly pulled over to the shoulder of State Route 55 following the shooting
A single bullet hole can be clearly seen following the shooting on Friday morning
A single bullet hole can be clearly seen following the shooting on Friday morning
The horror unfolded around 8:10am during the school run. Aiden was being taken to his kindergarten class at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda.
After gesturing to the driver who had cut her off, Joanna Cloonan shifted into a right.
As she moved over to to her right, a gunman , possibly sitting in the passenger seat of the suspect’s car, suddenly fired into Aiden’s vehicle, striking the boy in the back.
‘Mommy my tummy hurts!’ the youngster is said to have cried out.
After pulling over to the side of the road, Aiden’s mother picked him up and cradled him in her arms until an off-duty police office stopped to perform CPR and paramedics arrived on the scene.
‘She had blood on her clothes and he started turning blue and that’s when the ambulance took him and that was the last time my mom saw him alive,’ said Alexis Cloonan, the boy’s sister, during a tearful family press conference on Friday.
Authorities are looking for a man and a woman. The male passenger is believed to have fired the fatal shot while his female accomplice was driving the vehicle, believed to be a newer model white Volkswagen wagon sedan.
California Highway Patrol spokesman Florentino Olivera told the Orange County Register officers were working around the clock trying to identify the suspects.
They were working to obtain dashcam footage from passing motorists and follow up on tips from the public, Olivera said.
‘Aiden Leos also had a loving father whom was very much in his life,’ wrote Lily Dinh on the GoFundMe page
Police investigators walk along the closed northbound lanes of the 55 freeway south of Chapman Avenue looking for evidence following a shooting on Friday
Police officers conducted a search along the freeway on Friday following the shooting
The California Highway Patrol closed the northbound lanes of the 55 freeway as police investigators walk the freeway looking for evidence following the shooting
Fighting back tears, Aiden’s sister Alexis Cloonan pleaded for help from the public to find the killers.
‘Please help us find the people that did this to my little brother. He’s only six and he was so sweet. He was a very loving boy so please help us find who did this to him,’ Alexis said.
‘[My mom] had to hold her little boy as he died so she is very distraught right now,’ Alexis explained.
‘He was a rare toddler. I just loved having him in my life,’ she said as she paid tribute to the kindergartener who would often come to her room to tell her that he loved her.
‘You can tell it was a cowardly way of doing it because they shot her in the back pretty much,’ said the boy’s uncle John Cloonan.
‘You have no idea what you took from us today. You took her son away, her boy. This boy was full of love and joy and laughter,’ he continued.
‘I hope someone knows something and that whoever did this, I hope you can see what you’ve done to this family. Not that it matters much now because my nephew is dead. We’re never going to be full again.’
‘She [Aiden’s mother] was merging to the right side to get away from this person, and as you can see if you go online and look at the photos, there’s one bullet shot in the trunk that went through the trunk and right through my nephew,’ Cloonan explained.
Yellow crime scene tape stretches across the northbound lanes of the 55 freeway
A 6-year-old boy seated in the backseat of his mother’s car on a Southern California freeway was shot to death by another motorist on Friday
Traffic traveling northbound on the 55 freeway was diverted to the westbound 22 freeway as police investigators walked the freeway looking for evidence following the shooting
A six-year-old boy was shot and killed in what California police are calling an isolated road-rage incident that occurred on State Route 55 Friday morning
The child’s mother was driving this silver Chevy sedan when she flipped off another motorist for cutting her off, as she later told Good Samaritans who stopped to help
Late Friday night, police had not released the names of any wanted suspects.
‘It was an isolated road rage incident between the mom and another driver from a white sedan,’ California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera told KTLA-TV at the scene.
Olivera said the deadly gunshot came from a white sedan and struck the rear of a silver Chevrolet Sonic that was traveling ahead of it.
‘Unfortunately, the child that was seated in the right rear seat was struck,’ he said.
Aiden was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital Orange County.
‘If your vehicle has a dashcam, we’re asking you, please call our CHP office in Santa Ana, provide that video,’ Olivera said.
‘If you were driving by, you saw something that was not right, call it in – even if it wasn’t something major – call our office. We want to hear from witnesses.’
Reyes and Joanna Valdivia told Orange County Register they were taking their children to school when they saw the visibly distressed driver of the Chevrolet pull her wounded son from the backseat and collapse to the ground.
Police are pictured on the scene of the road-rage shooting, in which a bullet when through the back of the Chevy and struck the six-year-old who was in his booster seat
The freeway was shut down for hours as about a dozen investigators slowly walked the lanes looking for evidence
When the couple pulled over to offer help, Reyes said the mother, whom he described as ‘hysterical,’ told them she had showed the middle finger to the driver of the white sedan who cut her off in the carpool lane.
The mother told the Good Samaritans that when she veered to the right, the white sedan followed her and a gunshot went off.
The freeway was shut down for hours as about a dozen investigators slowly walked the lanes looking for evidence.
CBS Los Angeles reported that there have been nearly a dozen pellet and BB gun shootings on freeways across Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties over the past three weeks, but Olivera said Friday’s road-rage killing was unrelated to those earlier incidents.
Tips may be provided by calling the CHP’s Santa Ana office at (714) 567-6000.
Reyes and Joanna Valdivia stopped to help the boy’s mother and spoke to her about the shooting