By Faith E. Pinho and Andrew J. Campa
From Los Angeles Times
LOS ANGELES—Authorities say it’s possible the two suspects charged in the road rage killing of 6-year-old Aiden Leos might have been involved in other incidents.
Orange County prosecutors believe that between December 2020 and June 2021, there may have been other firearm-brandishing incidents beyond the one that prosecutors say led to Aiden’s death.
The district attorney’s office is asking anyone with information on such incidents that could allegedly involve Marcus Eriz, 24, and girlfriend Wynne Lee, 23, to call its tip line at at (714) 834-7000 or to email email@example.com.
It’s the latest in a case that has generated much attention and grief.
What Do We Know About Another Alleged Incident?
Authorities allege that a few days after Aiden was shot to death, the couple was involved in another road rage incident.
A Tesla driver reported that Eriz brandished a gun at him near the 91 Freeway in Corona while riding in the same white Volkswagen with Lee behind the wheel.
What About Aiden’s Shooting?
Eriz and Lee were headed to work in the HOV lane of the 55 Freeway about 8 a.m. May 21 when they approached a Chevrolet Sonic, which Joanna Cloonan was driving to take her son Aiden to kindergarten, court documents say. Lee maneuvered her Volkswagen Golf SportWagen into the lane immediately to the right of the HOV lane and then sped back into the HOV lane and cut off Cloonan, gesturing a peace sign in the process, according to the documents.
After a few miles, when Cloonan exited the HOV lane to make her way to the 91 Freeway, she passed the SportWagen and raised her middle finger at Lee and Eriz, the documents said.
Eriz told police in a June 6 interview that he reacted angrily to being “flipped off,” according to court documents. He grabbed his loaded Glock 17 9 mm pistol, readied it, then rolled down the passenger window and shot at Cloonan’s car, the court documents said.
“The very minor act on the part of Ms. Cloonan of showing him her middle finger resulted in him using deadly force against her and her son,” prosecutors said in the filing.
The bullet entered Cloonan’s car from the rear, striking her son through his back. She heard the bang of the gun and then her son’s cry: “Ow.” As Cloonan pulled over and took the dying boy into her arms, Lee continued driving onto the 91 Freeway to Highland, where the couple completed a day of work, court documents show.
Aiden was taken to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was declared dead at 8:39 a.m.
The boy’s death sparked a community outpouring of support, with hundreds of thousands of dollars offered to his family and contributed to a reward for finding and arresting the suspects. A plaque in his honor is set to be installed at the Orange County Zoo.
What New Details Have We Learned?
Last week, prosecutors offered chilling new details that shed light on the circumstances before and after Aiden’s death.
In the days after the fatal shooting, the couple continued commuting to work in Highland even as banners appeared on freeway fences beside them, asking, “Who shot Aiden Leos?”
Prosecutors filed a motion to make the case for the co-defendants’ bail amounts ahead of a court appearance Friday. In requesting no bail for Eriz, prosecutors described him as “an extreme danger to the community.”
“He has shown that he cannot control his temper, and he goes to extremes in the snap of a finger when he is angered,” the court document said.
On Friday, Superior Court Judge Larry Yellin decided to set no bail for Eriz, a sterner measure than the $2 million previously set, which Eriz’s lawyer, Randall Bethune, said his client had no intention of posting.
“It seems to me that Mr. Eriz is a complete danger to the community, to society,” the judge said. “There is a substantial likelihood of a threat to the public if Mr. Eriz was to get out.”
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