A 6-year-old boy is dead after he was shot in an apparent road-rage attack in California, prompting a police manhunt for the shooter who has yet to be found.
The incident occurred around 8:10 a.m. Friday while the kindergartener, Aiden Leos, was sitting in a booster seat in the back of the family’s car en route to school at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda. Another driver cut off Leos’ mother while they were in the carpool lane, prompting her to give the other driver the finger in the rear-view mirror, according to police.
As CrimeOnline previously reported, as the mother merged into another lane, a passenger believed to have been in that other vehicle fired a gun, striking Leos.
“Mommy my tummy hurts!” the boy exclaimed, according to his sister, Alexis Cloonan, who described the circumstances of the events during a press conference recorded by KTTV.
The mother pulled over to the side of the road on northbound State Route 55 in Orange, southeast of Los Angeles. She cradled the child, and an off-duty police officer passing by stopped to perform CPR. Paramedics soon arrived.
Leos was later pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital Orange County.
“She had blood on her clothes and then he started turning blue and that’s when the ambulance took him and that was the last time that my mom saw him alive,” Alexis Cloonan told reporters during the press conference on Friday, according to KABC-TV.
She added: “[My mom] had to hold her little boy as he died, so she is very distraught right now.”
Investigators are searching for the other vehicle believed to be involved in the incident, which appeared to be a white Volkswagen wagon sedan, and its two occupants, a man and a woman. The man may have fired the gun while the woman was driving.
The boy’s uncle, John Cloonan, said at the press conference that the killing has devastated the family.
“I hope that whoever did this, whoever the friends are of this person, I hope you can see what you’ve done to this family, or what your friend’s done to this family, and please turn them in” John Cloonan said, according to KTTV. “Not that it matters much now because my nephew is dead. We’re never going to be full again.
“My sister has been through a lot. She’s a single mom. And you took her son away. You took her boy away. This boy was full of love and joy and laughter,” John Cloonan said, according to KTTV.
Police shut down the highway for hours so investigators could methodically walk the lanes to collect evidence.
Authorities are urging any motorists who were in the area to help police with their investigation.
“If your vehicle has a dashcam, we’re asking you, please call our CHP office in Santa Ana, provide that video,” California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera told KABC-TV. “If you were driving by, you saw something that was not right, call it in – even if it wasn’t something major.”
Alexis Cloonan, the boy’s sister, recalled fond memories of her brother, who she said would often stop by her room and say he loved her.
“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, very loving boy, so please help us find who did this to him,” Alexis Cloonan said at the press conference, according to KTTV.
“He was a rare toddler. I just loved having him in my life.”
A GoFundMe account has been established to help with burial costs. As of Saturday morning, it had raised more than $68,000.
To report information about the shooting, call the California Highway Patrol at 714-567-6000.
For the latest true crime and justice news, subscribe to the ‘Crime Stories with Nancy Grace’ podcast: Listen to the latest episode.
[Feature Photo: Aiden Leos/Handout]