A 6-year-old boy was shot and killed during an apparent road rage incident on the 55 Freeway in Orange on Friday morning, and the gunman remains at large, California Highway Patrol officials said.
The boy was sitting in a booster seat in the right rear passenger side of his mother’s car when he was struck by the gunfire on the northbound 55 near Chapman Avenue around 8 a.m., according to CHP Officer Florentino Olivera.
Family members identified him as Aiden Leos. A GoFundMe campaign was set up to raise funds for his family.
His sister Alexis Cloonan said the boy’s mother is “not doing well, because it’s every mother’s worst nightmare. She had to hold him while he was dying.”
He was transported by the Orange Fire Department to Children’s Hospital Orange County, where he died.
“It’s unfortunate we lost a boy this morning. Our thoughts and prayers are with the mom and the family,” Olivera said.
Investigators spoke with the boy’s mother, who was not injured, as they tried to piece together the events that led up to the deadly shooting.
A witness who had pulled over to the side of the freeway to help the mother told the Los Angeles Times it appeared a bullet had entered the vehicle through the left side of the trunk.
“It went through the boy’s back,” Reyes Valdivia said.
The mother was “hysterical” as she pulled the little boy out of the vehicle after he had been shot, the witness recounted.
An off-duty police officer stopped at the scene soon after and performed CPR on the child, Valdivia said.
While CHP hasn’t released details about the road rage incident, Valdivia told the Times that the mother said she and son were headed to school when a car cut her off as she tried to exit the carpool lane. She gestured to the two occupants — a man and a woman — and was exiting the lane when the gunfire erupted, according to Valdivia.
The vehicle is believed to be newer model white sedan — possibly a Volkswagen station wagon — but authorities do not have a detailed description of the car or suspect.
Olivera described the road rage incident as “isolated” and said it was unrelated to a string of more than 60 BB or pellet gun shootings that have been reported in Orange, Riverside and Los Angeles counties in the past three weeks, mostly along the 91 Freeway.
CHP is pleading with witnesses to come forward, particularly anyone whose vehicle is equipped with a dash camera and was traveling on the northbound 55 between the 22 Freeway and Chapman between 7:55 a.m. and 8:15 a.m.
“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.
The northbound side of the freeway was closed for more than three hours amid the active investigation. All lanes reopened before noon.
Anyone with information about the incident is urged to call Investigator Kevin Futrell of CHP’s Santa Ana office at 714-567-6000.
Correction: A previous version of this story provided an incorrect description of Cloonan’s relationship the boy. This story has been updated.