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The California Highway Patrol (CHP) is seeking information from the public to help identify the shooter who killed a kindergartener in an apparent act of road rage, according to NBC Channel 4 News on Saturday, May 22, 2021. Six-year-old Aiden Leos was shot while sitting in his booster seat on his way to school Friday morning when he was struck with a bullet that took his life.
According to the CHP reports, the victim’s mother was driving on the 55 Freeway in Orange County northbound near East Chapman Avenue just after 8 a.m. PDT. Alexis Cloonan, Aiden’s 15-year-old sister, said their mom did not know there was a gunshot until the little boy complained that his stomach hurt.
When his mom picked him up, she discovered the blood. Cloonan said her little brother turned blue just before the CHP and ambulance arrived on the scene. She added that no mom should have to hold her bleeding baby while he dies.
Good samaritans Reyes and Joanna Valdivia of Orange had dropped their children off at school before driving onto the 55 Freeway on Chapman when they saw a car pull over and a woman with a child in her arms drop to the ground. They told CHP officers that during their conversation with Aiden’s mom, she explained that she had flipped off the driver of the other car as they cut her off in the carpool lane.
The woman told Valdivia that when she moved to the right, the white sedan, with a man and woman inside, slipped in behind her, and someone opened fire. She did not offer more details.
They describe her as wandering around aimlessly on the freeway’s shoulder — she was screaming.
The boy’s aunt, Carol Ybanez, told reporters the victim’s mother is a single parent with two kids and is “broken.” She is going to need help to get through this tragedy.
Officer Florentino Olivera, a CHP spokesperson, said Aiden was taken to Children’s Hospital of Orange County in Orange, where he died.
Mindy Daffron, a crisis team manager with the Orange County chapter of the Trauma Intervention Program, said the family is currently receiving support from the agency.
CHP Officer Olivera stated:
The boy’s mother was driving a silver Chevrolet Sonic north on the 55 Freeway near Chapman Avenue at about 8 a.m. when her car was hit by gunfire.
CHP is looking for a white Volkwagon sedan; his uncle explained as the victim’s mother was too distraught to talk. He told reporters she was pulling over to the right to get away from the VW. She indicated the driver was a woman and the passenger was a man. Aiden’s mom thinks the passenger was the shooter.
According to the CHP, the bullet was fired into the trunk on the left side of the Chevrolet. Valdivia said the shooter essentially shot Aiden in the back.
The CHP shut the freeway down for most of the day on Friday while officers and investigators lined the roadway searching for clues. CHP says there are Caltrans cameras here but are not sure if they were recording.
Olivera asked that anyone who was traveling the northbound 55 between the 22 and Chapman from 7:55 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. on Friday who saw anything out of the ordinary or who has dashcam or cellphone video call Investigator Kevin Futrell at the CHP Santa Ana office at 714-567-6000.
Written by Cathy Milne-Ware
NBC Los Angeles: 6-Year-Old Boy Fatally Shot on Freeway Was on His Way to Kindergarten; by Hetty Chang
The Orange County Register: Manhunt underway after 6-year-old boy is killed in road-rage freeway shooting in Orange; by Samantha Gowen and Brian Rokos
GoFundMe: Help 6yr old Aiden’s mother get thru this tragedy
Featured and Top Image Courtesy of C. Holmes’ Flickr Page – Creative Commons License