After a two-week manhunt, two people believed responsible for the shooting death of 6-year-old Aiden Leos in a road-rage confrontation on the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway were in custody Monday on suspicion of murder.
The suspects — Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23 — were arrested Sunday by the California Highway Patrol at their Costa Mesa home.
Both were being held on $1 million bail and were expected to appear in court Tuesday, pending the filing of criminal charges, according to Orange County jail records. The arrests came one day after Aiden’s funeral in Yorba Linda.
“This senseless crime tore at the community’s heart and brought it together in outrage and sheer determination to find Aiden’s killers,” said Orange County Supervisor Donald Wagner. “The CHP and District Attorney’s office have been relentless in the pursuit of justice for Aiden. I congratulate them on these arrests and thank them for their dedication to the people of Orange County.”
The arrests followed a lengthy manhunt conducted by investigators from the Santa Ana-area CHP and the CHP’s Border Division Investigative Services Unit, with the aid of other agencies.
“On behalf of Border Division Chief Omar Watson, and the Santa Ana Area, we are deeply grateful for the professionalism and tireless commitment of our investigators who have worked on this case from day one to find those responsible for Aiden’s death,” said CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray.
“While these arrests will not ease the pain of a mother’s loss, my hope is for the Leos family to have some peace of mind and to rest assured the CHP will work with the Orange County District Attorney to bring justice for Aiden.”
Watson also thanked the Southern California community for its “indescribable outpouring of concern and hundreds of tips” that helped investigators find the suspects.
“The department has been in regular contact with the victim’s family and I assure you they, like us, are committed to seeing justice served,” Watson said.
Shortly before or after 8 a.m. on May 21, Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, was driving a silver Chevrolet Sonic northbound on the 55 between the Garden Grove (22) Freeway and Chapman Avenue in Orange when a road-rage incident ensued with the occupants of a white Volkswagen station wagon — believed to be Eriz and Lee.
Pistol shots were fired, and at least one round fatally struck the boy in his right rear passenger child’s seat. Officials said earlier they believed a woman was driving with a male passenger.
Passersby Reyes Valdivia and his wife stopped to help when they spotted Cloonan on the freeway shoulder pulling her son from the passenger side of the car. He said she told them that when she tried to switch lanes to exit, a vehicle with a man and woman inside cut her off. She made a gestured to them and proceeded into the exit lane. Authorities believe the driver of the Volkswagen maneuvered behind Cloonan’s car, and one of the occupants fired a shot into the truck, striking Aiden.
Cloonan called 911 and the boy was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was pronounced dead.
At Saturday’s funeral, Cloonan said, “Violence is an unacceptable way to settle our differences and because of this, my son lost his life.”
The CHP released the photo of the suspect vehicle — apparently a white 2018 or 2019 Volkswagen Golf Sportswagen with non-tinted windows, but no visible license plate. It had last been seen eastbound on the Riverside (91) Freeway toward Riverside, said CHP Officer Florentino Olivera.
It was not immediately known who if anyone will claim the $500,000 in reward money that was put up for arrest and prosecution of the suspected killers.