Prosecutors are expected to announce charges Tuesday against the two suspects arrested in connection with the road rage shooting that killed 6-year-old boy Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway in Orange last month.
On Sunday evening the CHP announced Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23, had been arrested at their home in Costa Mesa. They were each being held on $1 million bail.
CHP had earlier said both were expected to be charged with murder, but at a Monday afternoon press conference Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said the exact charges were still being worked out.
Authorities believe Lee was driving the vehicle and Eriz had fired the shots. Filing a murder charge against Lee would be more difficult, Spitzer said.
“We have to prove the same kind of knowledge and intent by the driver as we do with respect to the actual shooter,” he said. “Clearly that’s a bigger hill for us to climb with respect to the driver.”
Leos was fatally shot on the morning of May 21 while seated in a booster seat in the back seat of his mother’s car. She was taking him to kindergarten.
Highway patrol officials said the boy’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, and the suspects were involved in a road rage incident over “a perceived unsafe lane change.”
One of the suspects then fired at least once into the rear of Cloonan’s vehicle, killing Aiden, according to the CHP. The suspects then fled the scene in what officials described as a 2018-2019 white Volkswagen Golf SportWagen with untinted windows and a sunroof.
A reward offered for information leading to an arrest in the case had grown to at least $500,000. However, officials declined to comment on any details about the reward during Monday’s news conference.
“We have recovered what we believe are the weapon and automobile used in the crime,” Donald Goodbrand, CHP Border Division’s assistant chief, said.
Officials credited help from the public and various agencies in helping with the investigation that led to the arrests. However, authorities kept a tight lip Monday in providing further details into the ongoing investigation.
“Information from the public throughout this process has been extremely helpful,” Goodbrand said, also crediting the collaborative work of various Southern California law enforcement agencies in investigating this case.
Spitzer said he thinks the wide interest in Aiden’s case is due to the likelihood of it happening to anyone.
“Why so much interest in this little boy?” Spitzer rhetorically asked at the news conference. “It’s because it can happen to any one of us. We all drive the freeways in Southern California. We’ve all gotten upset at other motorists. Other motorists have been upset at us.”
Meanwhile, CHP Border Division Chief Omar Watson thanked the SoCal community for its “indescribable outpouring of concern and hundreds of tips” that helped investigators find the killers.
“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 stated.
Eriz and Lee are expected to be arraigned at 10 a.m. Tuesday at the Orange County Superior Court.
Their arrests came a day after the funeral service for Leos, who was remembered as a curious, affable boy with dreams of becoming an entomologist one day.
“My precious son had his life ripped away from him for absolutely no reason,” Cloonan said of her child. “They took his life and my heart along with it.”
The open-casket ceremony was held at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda for family and close friends, and livestreamed online.
“It feels so wrong that you’ve been taken from us,” the mother continued in delivering her emotional eulogy Saturday. “I want nothing more than to find justice, although it won’t bring you back into our arms. It makes me outraged that such a precious, beautiful soul did not get the opportunity to continue developing into a young man, starting a family of his own.”
Aiden was buried Monday in a private ceremony.