SANTA ANA—Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer issued a stern warning May 27 to a pair of unidentified suspects sought in the road-rage shooting death of a 6-year-old boy on the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway in Orange, as the reward posted in the case swelled to $310,000.
At a news conference in Orange, the county’s top prosecutor gave the woman and man who were in the car at the time of the May 21 shooting of Aiden Leos 24 hours to turn themselves in.
“We’re not messing around anymore,” Spitzer said. “So you choose door A or door B … Door A, we listen to what you have to say.”
Door B, he said, would involve throwing the book at the killer and anyone who helped him evade justice.
“You’ve got about 24 hours to turn yourself in, or that door is closing on your future. I’m running out of patience,” Spitzer said. “The longer this goes on, the less sympathetic I will be to understand you.”
Spitzer said it appears the woman was driving the suspect vehicle while a male passenger opened fire, killing the Costa Mesa youngster, who was in the booster seat of his mother’s car as she drove him to kindergarten at Calvary Chapel school in Yorba Linda.
Spitzer said prosecutors in the county have solved cases going back 40 years and “will never rest” on holding the boy’s killer accountable.
“To the woman driving the car, you need to turn yourself in,” Spitzer said. “You are an accomplice. … It’s not going to get any better for you.”
Then, addressing the killer, he said, “You have to spend the rest of your life knowing you killed a 6-year-old boy.”
Spitzer said he would meet with California Highway Patrol investigators that afternoon to go over what evidence they have collected so far.
“I’m hoping I am pleased at that briefing,” Spitzer said.
The reward for the capture and conviction of the killer grew to $310,000 on May 27. Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner put up a $50,000 match to the family’s crowdfunded $50,000 and “it snowballed from there,” Wagner said at the news conference.
“This community is coming together to see justice done,” Wagner said.
Supervisor Katrina Foley contributed $50,000 from her office’s discretionary budget as well. The board of supervisors approved the $100,000 in contributions on May 25, and the Costa Mesa City Council is expected to add to the reward when it meets next week.
A consortium of local business leaders, including Bill Skeffington, chief executive of Ben’s Asphalt, have offered up the rest, and Skeffington predicted the reward “will continue to grow.”
“To the woman driving the car—turn yourself in. Todd’s a great guy, and I’m sure something can be worked out,” he said.
It’s possible that multiple people will share in the reward depending on how information leads to an arrest and conviction, Wagner said.
Aiden’s 15-year-old sister, Alexis Cloonan, said, “Thank you on behalf of my mother,” as she urged anyone with information to get in touch with investigators.
“Please, if you saw anything at all, please come forward.”
Another family member, Carole Ybanez, told reporters at the news conference, “We are holding up every morning because of you all.”
She also thanked the CHP and said, “We are a little numb today. … This is truly horrible.”
Joanna Cloonan was driving a silver Chevrolet Cruze sedan with her son in the right rear passenger booster seat when another driver opened fire between 7:55 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. on the northbound Costa Mesa Freeway between the Garden Grove (22) Freeway and Chapman Avenue.
Reyes Valdivia and his wife stopped to help when they spotted Cloonan on the freeway shoulder pulling her son out from the passenger side of the car.
He said she told them that when she tried to switch lanes to exit, a sedan with a man and woman inside cut her off and she gestured to them and proceeded into the exit lane, which is when the bullet entered the left side of trunk and struck her son.
She called 911 and the boy was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was pronounced dead, according to California Highway Patrol Officer John De Matteo. He said it’s unknown how many rounds were fired from the suspects’ car, which may be a newer model, possibly a white “wagon-style” Volkswagen sedan.
Anyone with relevant information was asked to call the California Highway Patrol at 714-567-6000. The CHP also has set up the SantaAnaCHPTipLine@chp.ca.gov email to receive tips.
Anonymous tips may also be phoned in to 800-TELL-CHP.
Another website, www.aiden-reward.com, has also been created to help collect tips from the public.