Charges filed for suspects in 55 Freeway shooting that killed Aiden Leos
Charges were filed in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday for two suspects in connection with the shooting on the 55 Freeway in Orange last month that resulted in the death of Costa Mesa 6-year-old Aiden Leos.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, of Costa Mesa, has been charged with murder and shooting at an occupied vehicle, with sentencing enhancements for causing great bodily injury or death through the personal discharge of a firearm. If convicted on all counts, Eriz could face 40 years to life in prison.
Wynne Lee, 23, of Costa Mesa, who authorities allege was driving the suspected car, has been booked on accessory to murder after the fact and concealing a firearm within the vehicle. Lee could face a maximum sentence of three years in state prison, plus an additional year in county jail if all charges are upheld.
The arraignment in the case was continued to Friday, June 18. Prosecutors asked for Eriz’s bail to be set at $2 million and the bail for Lee to be $500,000.
Eriz allegedly opened fire into the back of a vehicle driven by Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, on the morning of Friday, May 21. The apparent road-rage incident occurred as Aiden was being taken to a kindergarten class in Yorba Linda.
The California Highway Patrol led the investigation and had been looking for a white Volkswagen seen with a male passenger believed to be the shooter and a female driver. The arrests in the case were made on Sunday in Costa Mesa, authorities said.
CHP Assistant Chief Don Goodbrand said the suspected vehicle was found at a different location from where the arrests were made in a news briefing at the CHP office in Santa Ana on Monday. He added that a weapon believed to have been used in the crime had been recovered.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer remarked that the case has resonated with the community because driving on the freeway is an experience shared by so many.
Spitzer also commented at Monday’s briefing that promises should not be made concerning the criminal justice system, but that notion was not sitting well with him.
“We don’t want to make promises, but there’s something about that that leaves me a little bit empty because I do want to promise today, when Aiden was put below ground, that we will get justice for him,” Spitzer said. “We have to promise him that.
“It’s so important for that little boy to set an example for the rest of society about how we treat each other, and how we operate, and how we get out of control so quickly today and take actions against other people, and some people think without any responsibility whatsoever.”
The suspects were apprehended in Costa Mesa, where Orange County Supervisor Katrina Foley previously served as mayor.
“It doesn’t reflect on Costa Mesa as a whole, but I’m just glad that enough people sent in enough information so that we could find the killer,” Foley said. “I think D.A. Spitzer was right on, in terms of his comments, that the reason why we had such an outpouring and why the whole community was united was because who could ever imagine this was going to happen on the freeway?
“You think about, ‘Wow, could this happen to me, to my family?’ As a mom, it really impacted me quite a bit.”
After a crowdfunding effort, Aiden’s family had posted a $50,000 reward for information that assisted with the investigation. Orange County Supervisors Donald Wagner and Foley each contributed $50,000 from the discretionary budgets of their respective offices, and the Costa Mesa City Council also approved a $50,000 contribution to the reward.
Grievers continued to make their way to the 55 Freeway overpass at Walnut Avenue, near the site of the shooting, the day after the arrests were made.
Kristal Vinous, 29, of Anaheim came by with her boyfriend and left a teddy bear at the site of the makeshift memorial.
“I was actually driving down this way the day it happened, so I saw all the CHP officers just walking down, and I was wondering what was happening,” Vinous said. “Right away, I just looked it up, and I figured what had happened, and it just broke my heart just knowing that’s a 6-year-old boy.
“I know it’s such a contradiction to say it, but I also feel joyous right now because they caught people who are suspected in this.”
Gina Nubia, 23, of Orange said she felt safer following the arrests. She added that the community support, which saw the reward money climb to $500,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case, was an impactful statement.
“It was a very powerful feeling,” Nubia said. “I feel like every single day, everybody just wanted them to get caught … I am a mom myself, and it’s just a very strong feeling when somebody hurts your kids.”
At Monday’s briefing, Goodbrand did not discuss the reward money, but he said that “hundreds of tips” had been received from the public and helpful information was received.
All the latest on Orange County from Orange County.
Get our free TimesOC newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Daily Pilot.