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Reward in boy’s shooting death on 55 Freeway tops $300,000; suspects urged to surrender

Press conference on the freeway shooting that took the life of a 6-year-old Aiden Leos in Orange
Alexis Cloonan, left, Aiden Leos’ sister, and Carole Ybanez, a family friend, stand behind Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner at a news conference Thursday on the freeway shooting that left 6-year-old Aiden dead.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

As the search continues for those responsible for the shooting death of a 6-year-old boy on an Orange County freeway last week, the reward in the case has grown to more than $300,000.

In the days since Aiden Leos’ family announced Sunday that it would offer $50,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for the boy’s killing, more reward money has poured in.

Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said Monday he would match the family’s contribution, and Supervisor Katrina Foley added $50,000 Tuesday from her office’s budget. An anonymous donor kicked in another $50,000, and a growing group of Orange County businesspeople — including Bill Skeffington of Watson’s Soda Fountain and Cafe in Orange — have added to the coffer.

By Thursday morning, the total reward was up to to $310,000, Wagner said, and he expected it would continue to grow.

“Maybe there’s a camera somewhere that caught a fleeting glimpse of something that allows law enforcement to connect the dots,” Wagner said at a news conference Thursday at Watson’s. “Whatever it happens to be, come forward, and if you contribute to the capture and the conviction of Aiden’s killer, you’re in line for that reward.”

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Anyone with possible information about the shooting should contact California Highway Patrol at (714) 567-6000 or visit www.aiden-reward.com.

It is possible that multiple people who bring tips that lead to an arrest could split the reward money, Wagner added.

The gunman fled after the shooting near West Chapman Avenue, police said. The child died after being rushed to the hospital.

Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer declined to comment on the status of the case Thursday, other than to say that authorities do not have anyone in custody. The CHP did not respond to requests for comment regarding the investigation.

Aiden was shot around 8 a.m. Friday while sitting in a booster seat on his way to school. His mother was traveling north on the 55 Freeway when a white sedan, possibly a Volkswagen Jetta, fired into her Chevrolet Cruze, CHP officials said at the time.

The suspects in the shooting, reportedly a man and woman, sped away while Aiden’s mother pulled onto the shoulder of the road. The boy was rushed to nearby Children’s Hospital, where authorities declared him dead.

Spitzer called for the suspects to turn themselves in, saying he was “running out of patience.”

“It’s time to understand that the longer this goes on, the less sympathetic I will be to understanding why you did what you did,” Spitzer said.

“Understand this: We will catch you. We might not do it today, we might not do it tomorrow, it may not even be next week. But we solve crimes in this county that are as old as 40 and 50 years, and we never stop, and we never rest until we put the person into custody and get justice. This is Orange County, California, and make no mistake where you committed your crime.”

Aiden’s mother told Reyes Valdivia, a commuter who stopped to help, that she and her son were traveling in the carpool lane, and when she tried to switch lanes to exit, a white sedan with a man and woman inside cut her off. She gestured to them and proceeded into the exit lane, and that’s when the shooting occurred, Valdivia said.

The woman was driving the car, Spitzer said, and the man was in the front passenger seat when he fired the shot that punctured the Cruze’s trunk and struck Aiden.

“You killed a little boy — a little boy that today should be in kindergarten, should be going to school, should be looking forward to the rest of his life,” Spitzer said.

Standing beside the district attorney, Aiden’s older sister Alexis Cloonan nodded her head and wept.

“We’re so grateful for that outpouring of love and support,” she said.

The boy’s death has ignited a wave of sympathy nationwide, and donations have poured into two GoFundMe accounts for his mother and father.


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