Aiden Leos loved the zoo, and now he’ll always be part of it.
On Monday, it was announced that a plaque with a photo of the 6-year-old Costa Mesa boy, who was shot and killed in a road-rage attack last month, will be part of a new large mammal exhibit at the Orange County Zoo. The exhibit is scheduled to open next year.
The photo of Aiden was taken at the mountain lion exhibit.
Aiden also liked to feed goats at the zoo, family members said.
“This is a place he came with mom and dad and sister,″ said Carla Lacy, a spokesperson for the boy’s family. “So it’s a very special place to the family.”
“I can’t think of a better place than here where he enjoyed so many visits,” she said.
Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, held a stuffed teddy bear during the announcement. Aiden’s older sister, Alexis Cloonan, also was there.
Aiden was killed May 21 as his mother was driving him to kindergarten in Orange County, southeast of Los Angeles.
According to accounts from the boy’s mother and witnesses who stopped to help her after the shooting, another car cut her off and she responded with a hand gesture and the car slipped in behind her and someone inside fired a shot through the rear of her car.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, of Costa Mesa is charged with murder and discharging a firearm at an occupied vehicle. His girlfriend, Wynne Lee, is charged with being an accessory after the fact and illegally carrying a concealed firearm. Prosecutors said they believe she was driving the car and Eriz fired the fatal shot.
They haven’t entered pleas to the charges.
“Aiden lives on here at the zoo in part because as people come here, bring their children here, they remember the story and they will understand the importance of justice being done,” county Supervisor Donald Wagner said at Monday’s announcement.
Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly stated Carla Lacy’s relation to Aiden Leos’ family. This post has been updated.