Road rage ends in tragic death of a child

THE VICTIM’S CAR is pictured on the 55 Freeway in front of a police car north of Chapman Avenue. Photo by The Orange County Register

Danielle Generaux | Student Life Editor

May 28, 2021

Sometime between 7:55 am and 8:15 am on May 21, a 6-year-old boy, Aiden Leos, from Costa Mesa was killed on the northbound 55 Freeway. Reports say that the incident occurred near Chapman Avenue. Aiden was sitting in a booster seat in the back of his mother’s silver Chevrolet sedan. The week before Aiden had just celebrated his 6th birthday. 

On the morning of the shooting, Joanna Cloonan, Alexis Cloonan, and Aiden Leos were taking the 55 north to their school when the mother says they were cut off by a white Volkswagen. Soon after, someone in this car shot at their car. The bullet went through the back of the car and hit Aiden. The shooter was probably aiming for the mother, but hit her son.

AIDEN LEOS (left) and his older sister Alexis (right) are pictured together at a birthday party. Photo Courtesy of the Cloonan Family

“When I first heard of the story, I saw it on the news late at night, and I was furious and disgusted at the audacity that the perpetrator had to even think of shooting at the car. Whether or not he shot a child or not, road rage is a terrible excuse to do that kind of ‘hit and run scenario,” senior Crista Mangahas said. “A lot of people are blaming the mother for starting the situation in the first place through making a gesture at the driver who cut her off, and I find that those critics are inconsiderate in that she didn’t expect to lose her child for that.” 

His 15-year-old sister, Alexis Cloonan, was also in the car when the tragedy occurred. She stated that her mother did not know that her son was shot until Aiden said that his stomach hurt. “She had to hold him while he was dying. No mother should have to go through that,” she said.

“If [the shooter] made that decision, then I don’t think he’d be in the right mental place to be owning a gun or even driving a car,” senior Jenna Johnson said. “I think that’s proof that we need to run thorough background checks on people who buy guns and pay more attention to the mental health of people around us.” 

CalTrans cameras are in the area, according to the CHP, or the California Highway Patrol, but it is unsure whether they were recording. They’re asking anyone who was near Chapman Avenue on the 55 Freeway around 8 am Friday to consider what they heard and saw. If you were there, or know someone who was there, please encourage them to tell all the information they know or have to the CHP.

THIS WHITE VOLKSWAGEN has been identified as the shooter’s car. Photo by ABC 7

On Thursday, photos were released by police of the shooter’s vehicle. The CHP said that the photo pictured was a 2018 or 2019 white Volkswagen Golf SportWagen with non-tinted windows. Unfortunately, the license plate can not be seen in the photo. Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said that in the car was a female driver and a male in the passenger seat, who is probably the one who shot Aiden. According to ABC 7, “CHP said the suspect vehicle continued driving northbound on the 55 Freeway to the eastbound 91 Freeway toward Riverside.”

This website was set up to help catch the killer and is rewarding $310,000 to information that could lead to the capture of the shooter.

If you want to help the family with the boy’s burial costs, replacement of the car, and home expenses, donate to the GoFundMe that has been set up.

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