A growing reward fund is now at least $310,000 as authorities on Thursday released the first image of the vehicle used by the shooter who killed a 6-year-old boy in a road rage incident last week on the 55 Freeway in Orange.
The fundraising started with a $50,000 reward offered by Aiden Leos’ family. Then two Orange County supervisors, the district attorney and local businesses added money to the reward.
Officials at a news conference on Thursday said they expect the reward to continue climbing.
“I would just like to say thank you on behalf of me and my mother for all the support,” Alexis Cloonan, the boy’s sister, said at the news conference. “Aiden gets to have a funeral as beautiful as he is, and we’re so, so grateful for that and the outpour of love and support.”
Officials and community members hope the reward will bring in information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the gunman who fatally shot the 6-year-old while the boy was on his way to kindergarten in Yorba Linda.
O.C. District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the shooter was a man, while a woman was driving the car.
“I want the two individuals in that vehicle to understand: this is Orange County, California. This is not Los Angeles or San Francisco. … I’m running out of patience,” Spitzer said. “It’s time to turn yourself in. It’s time to understand that the longer this goes on, the less sympathetic I will be to understanding why you did what you did.”
CHP is asking witnesses to come forward. In particular, they are looking for anyone who may have dashcam or cellphone video that was taken on the northbound 55 near the 22 Freeway and Chapman between 7:15 and 8:15 a.m. last Friday.
CHP had previously described the suspect vehicle as a white 2015-2019 Volkswagen Golf wagon, but later specified the car as a 2018 or 2019 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen with non-tinted windows. After the shooting, the vehicle was last seen traveling northbound on the 55 Freeway and heading eastbound on the 91 Freeway toward Riverside.
At Thursday’s news conference, Spitzer announced the boys’ killers have “about 24 hours to turn yourselves in.” It wasn’t clear what would happen when that time period expires.
Aiden Leos was shot about 8 a.m. Friday, May 21, in what is being called a road rage incident. The boy was in a booster seat in the back while mother, Joanna Cloonan, was driving. Cloonan says a vehicle, possibly a white Volkswagen station wagon, cut her off to get into the carpool lane of the 55 Freeway near Chapman Avenue.
“As I started to merge away from them, I heard a really loud noise,” Cloonan told ABC News. “And my son said, ‘Ow,’ and I had to pull over. And he got shot.”
Cloonan’s daughter — Aiden’s older sister Alexis — told KTLA her mother didn’t immediately recognize the noise as a gunshot “because no one would think that someone just shot a bullet into my car,” she said.
Cloonan immediately called 911, but Leos was pronounced dead after being rushed to the hospital. The boy had just celebrated his sixth birthday the week before.
“He meant the world to me, and it feels like my life is over,” Cloonan said. “That was my baby. I’ve never, never thought pain like this could exist.”
O.C. Supervisor Don Wagner said the “community is coming together to see justice done.”
For example, Yorba Linda’s Station Donuts, at 18316 Imperial Highway, will be selling doughnuts Friday through Sunday in which all the proceeds will be donated to Aiden’s family.
“He was a 6-year-old boy, and that perhaps is the biggest tragedy. For Aiden, there never will ever again be opportunities to participate in the community, to have accomplishments — that’s the tragedy,” Wagner said. “The crime ripped this community apart and put it back together as collectively we seek justice. … If you’re out there and you know something, come forward.”
Anyone with information is urged to send tips by calling call CHP’s Santa Ana office at 714-567-6000, or 800-TELL-CHP (835-5247). Tips can also be emailed to SantaAnaCHPTipline@chp.ca.gov. More information can also be found at aiden-reward.com.