Aiden Leos' parents say 'lives are shattered' after 6-year-old was shot dead in road rage attack as public raise $150k
THE heartbroken family of a six-year-old boy shot dead in a road rage attack have said their "lives are shattered"
The public have now raised $150,000 for the family of Aiden Leos, who was shot while riding in the back seat of his mother's after she reportedly gave the middle finger to another driver.
The horrific incident unfolded on 55 freeway near Los Angeles at around 8am on Friday as Aiden's mother Joanna Cloonan was driving him to kindergarten.
She gave the finger to a driver in her review mirror, but as she switched lanes, a male gunman believed to have been sitting in the passenger's seat of a car driven by a woman, suddenly fired into her vehicle.
The single gunshot struck little Aiden in the backas he was travelling in the the silver Chevrolet Sonic.
A GoFundMe page set up for the family has now raised more than $150,000 for the family and the organiser of the page has posted a message thanking everyone who has donated.
"The mother, father and sister of Aiden want to express their appreciation for your loving support while their lives are shattered in a million pieces they are strengthened knowing the world is wrapping their arms around them! THANK YOU!," said the message.
After the shoot was fired, Cloonan pulled over to the side of the road and cradled him in her arms until an off-duty police officer raced over to administer CPR.
He was taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County where he was pronounced dead.
Aiden'sfinal words were said to be "Mommy, my tummy hurts."
A devastated Cloonan has been speaking about the incident for the first time and the loss of her son, who she said was the "most loving, kind soul".
"They took my son's life away," she told ABC's 'Good Morning America'.
"He was beautiful and he was kind and he was precious, and you killed him for no reason. And I want to find them and I want there to be justice to be served for my son."
Cloonan said she saw a woman driving the car and a man in the passenger seat, but was unsure who fired the weapon at her car.
She said as she started to pull away from the other car “I heard a really loud noise” adding: "And my son said, 'Ow,' and I had to pull over. And he got shot."
"He meant the world to me, and it feels like my life is over. That was my baby. I've never, never thought pain like this could exist."
As of early Saturday evening, the female driver and the male gunman remain at large but the family have appealed for them to come forward.
"I hope that people see this and understand that this is not OK, whatever and whoever these people are and for whatever reason, this is not OK," Joanna Cloonan said.
"It should never happen again. So whatever help this does, that's my intention for my son."
Aiden's uncle John Cloonan has spoken of Aiden's "beautiful, beautiful soul".
"Everybody he met, everybody he talked to, he would compliment them and be kind to them before he could talk," he said.
"He was walking up to you and putting his head on your shoulder, or your lap and kissing you."
No description of either suspect has been offered by police, though they were believed to be traveling in a newer model white Volkswagen sedan.
Aiden's distraught sister, Alexis Cloonan, urged the public to help identify the pair.
"My mom is too distraught right now to talk so I'm down here for her because people should know what happened to my little brother," she said through tears.
"Please help us find the people that did this to my little brother. He's only six and he was so sweet."
Alexis also recounted Aiden's final moments of life and how her mother held him as he died.
"She had blood on her clothes and he started turning blue and that's when the ambulance took him and that was the last time my mom saw him alive.
"He was a rare toddler. I just loved having him in my life," she tearfully said.
John Cloonan, described for the media where the gunshot landed.
"There's one bullet shot in the trunk, went through the trunk and right through my nephew so you can tell it was a cowardly way of doing it because they shot her in the back pretty much.
"You took her [Aiden's mother] son away. You took her boy away. This boy was full of love and joy and laughter.
John Cloonan said he is hoping the suspects or people who know them will encourage them to turn themselves in.
"I hope someone knows something and that whoever did this, I hope you can see what you've done to this family. Please turn them in, not that it matters much now because my nephew's dead so we're never gonna be, we're never gonna be full again."
Witness Reyes Valdivia, meanwhile, told the Orange County Register Aiden's mom told him and his wife that she “flipped off” the driver of a white sedan after he cut her off in the carpool lane.
“My wife noticed a lady pulling her son out and dropping to the ground with her son in her arms,” he said.
He recalled the woman saying “I got shot at in the car" adding that the bullet “went through the boy’s back.”
Authorities are hoping someone who may have information on Friday's fatal shooting or the wanted killer will come forward.
California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera said at a news conference that "there was some type of road rage incident".
"Unfortunately, the boy in the back seat was shot," he said.
“If you were driving by, you saw something that was not right, call it in, even it wasn’t something major, call our office,” Olivera said.
Anyone with information, cell phone video, car dashcam video, or those who may have witnessed the shooting is urged to contact the California Highway Patrol Santa Ana Area Investigator Kevin Futrell at 714-567-6000.
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