After a manhunt that lasted more than two weeks, a couple in their 20s were arrested outside their Costa Mesa apartment Sunday night in connection to the 55 Freeway road rage shooting that took the life of 6-year-old Aiden Leos on May 21.
California Highway Patrol, the lead agency in the investigation, announced Monday that they have also located the vehicle and firearm used in the shooting.
“We have recovered what we believe are the weapon and automobile used in the crime,” Assistant Chief Don Goodbrand said. “Information from the public throughout this process has been extremely helpful.”
CBSLA learned that California Highway Patrol investigators had placed the couple under surveillance for an unspecified period of time. Officers followed the pair from a restaurant Sunday before arresting them outside their Costa Mesa residence.
CHP Patrol Capt. Mike Harris said Monday that he spoke to Aiden’s mom about the arrests.
“I FaceTimed her,” he said. “I let her know what had taken place. She was very emotional.”
The Orange County District Attorney’s Office Monday announced 24-year-old Marcus Anthony Eriz and 23-year-old Wynne Lee were the two arrested. Eriz is suspected of being the shooter, while Lee is believed to have been the driver. They are believed to be romantically involved.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer told CBSLA that murder charges may be on the table, but that a decision on the exact charges will come soon, once prosecutors have been fully briefed on evidence gathered by CHP investigators.
Family members and pallbearers walk with the casket of Aiden Leos as they leave the Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda following a memorial service on June 5, 2021, in Yorba Linda. (Mark Rightmire/Orange County Register/Getty Images)
“We’ll be and we are as we speak executing search warrants to get additional evidence that we’re going to and want to collect,” Spitzer told reporters Sunday night. “And we’re putting this case together. I feel very, very good about the case.”
A memorial service for Aiden was held Saturday.
On the morning of May 21, Aiden was in a booster seat in the back of his mother’s Chevrolet Sonic, on his way to kindergarten in Yorba Linda, when the shooting incident occurred on the northbound 55 Freeway in the city of Orange.
Joanna Cloonan, Aiden’s mother was involved in a road rage incident with the occupants of a white Volkswagen station wagon over a perceived unsafe lane change, according to CHP. Detectives believe a woman was driving and a man, who was in the front passenger seat, committed the shooting itself.
The reward for information leading to the arrest of the suspects has surpassed $500,000. So far there’s been no word on what will happen with the reward.
Authorities in Southern California said Monday that they used dashcam videos and tips to help track down the suspects in the road rage shooting death of a 6-year-old boy who was killed while driving to school with his mother.
The Los Angeles Times reported that authorities enhanced an image of the license plate that helped them identify the suspects. The white Volkswagen they were allegedly driving helped investigators. There are only 140 of those models in the state, Fox 11 reported.
California Highway Patrol (CHP) assistant chief Don Goodbrand said at a press conference that Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23, were arrested on Sunday after authorities acted on a tip and followed them to their Costa Mesa apartment, the Orange County Register reported.
The CHP said the investigation into the May 21 shooting death of Aiden Leos is ongoing and they announced the recovery of what they believe was the gun and vehicle during the shooting.
The Times reported that part of the investigation included learning about the couple’s commute. They were able to determine that the pair was in the vicinity at the time of the shooting, the report said.
Leos was fatally shot while seated in the back seat of a car driven by his mother, Joanna Cloonan on the 55 Freeway in the city of Orange.
According to accounts from the mother and witnesses who stopped to help her, another car cut her off and she responded with a hand gesture and the car slipped in behind her and someone inside fired a shot through the rear of her car. Cloonan said she heard a loud noise and her son, who was behind her, said, “Ow.”
He had been shot. She pulled over as soon as she could. She called 911 and did her best to save him, but he was losing a lot of blood.
He was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was pronounced dead.A reward offered for information leading to an arrest had grown to at least $500,000.Prosecutors are still deciding what charge to bring, said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer.
“We are reviewing the evidence and we’re looking at every single legal theory in conjunction with that evidence,” he said.
“The one thing you don’t want to do in the criminal justice system is to make promises…we don’t want to make promises but there’s something about that that leaves me a little bit empty,” the DA added. “I do want to promise today that when Aiden was put below ground that we will get justice for him. We have to promise him that.”
“It gives me peace of mind and that’s why we came out here today, a big part of why we came out here today, knowing that justice is being served,” Jackie Matinee, who visited the memorial for Aiden on the Walnut Avenue overpass above the 55 Freeway, said Monday.
At Monday’s press conference, Spitzer had tough words for the suspects in the shooting.
“I’m here to tell you, this is Orange County, California,” Spitzer said. “And when you commit a crime in our county, you’re going to be held responsible to the fullest extent of the law.”
Both Eriz and Lee remained in custody at the Orange County Jail Monday on $1 million bail. They are expected to be arraigned at the Orange County Superior Court Tuesday morning. The public will then have a better understanding of the charges the pair are facing.