A mother whose young son was shot dead in his car booster seat after she gave another driver the finger for cutting her off trembled with emotion as she recalled his final moments.
Joanna Cloonan struggled to hold back tears as she described six year-old Aiden Leo’s horrific final moments along the 55 Freeway in Orange, California, on Friday
She told Good Morning America: ‘I was driving on the freeway, and there was a car behind me that cut me off abruptly. I was in the carpool lane with my son, and as I started to merge away from them, I heard a really loud noise, and my son said, “ow”, and I had to pull over, and he got shot.’
Aiden was struck by a bullet that whizzed through the trunk of his mom’s Chevy. It hit him in the back, fatally wounding him.
He is said to have been killed by a male passenger in a car being driven by a woman.
Cloonan pulled over to try and save her son, but to no avail. His final words were ‘Mommy, my tummy hurts.’
Aiden Leo’s mom Joanna Cloonan sobbed as she recalled her son’s final moments after he was shot by a road rage driver
Cloonan told Good Morning America how she pulled over after Aiden said ‘ow’, and tried unsuccessfully to stop blood pouring from his gunshot wound
Addressing her son’s killers, Cloonan said: ‘You killed him for no reason.’ She says she wants ‘justice’ for Aiden
Speaking on Sunday, Cloonan said she was driving Aiden to school when he was killed.
She continued: ‘I pulled over and I took him out of the car, and I – I tried to put my hand on his wounds while calling 911 because he was losing a lot of blood.’
Addressing her son’s killers, Cloonan said: ‘They took my son’s life away. He was beautiful, and he was kind, and she was precious, and you killed him for no reason. And I want to find them, and I want there to be justice to be served for my son.’
Cloonan, who was uninjured in the shooting, added: ‘I hope that people see this [interview] and understand that this is not OK, whatever and whoever these people are and for whatever reason, this is not OK.
‘It should never happen again. So whatever help this does, that’s my intention for my son.
‘He sang all the time, and the children at the preschool, everybody loved him. He’s a once in a lifetime kid. I miss him, and the person that did this can’t get away with it’
Police are continuing to hunt for Aiden’s killer, and have yet to make any arrests.
He was in the rear of the family car being driven to school by his mother when another motorist cut her off while traveling in the car pool lane of the northbound side of State Route 55, in Orange, southeast of Los Angeles.
Aiden’s mother was said to have given the other driver the finger in her rear view mirror, but the gesture set off a deadly and tragic chain of events.
Six-year-old Aiden Leos was killed by a bullet while riding in the back of his mother’s Chevy sedan on Friday morning
Aiden’s distraught family are begging for justice with Aiden’s older sister, Alexis Cloonan, pictured center, describing him and someone who was full of ‘love, joy and laughter’
As she moved over to to her right, a gunman, possibly sitting in the passenger seat of the suspect’s car, suddenly fired into Aiden’s vehicle, striking the boy in the back.
‘Mommy my tummy hurts!’ the youngster is said to have cried out.
After pulling over to the side of the road, Aiden’s mother picked him up and cradled him in her arms until an off-duty police office stopped to perform CPR and paramedics arrived on the scene.
‘She had blood on her clothes and he started turning blue and that’s when the ambulance took him and that was the last time my mom saw him alive,’ said Alexis Cloonan, the boy’s sister, during a tearful family press conference on Friday.
‘Please help us find the people that did this to my little brother. he’s only six and he was so sweet. He was a very loving boy so please help us find who did this to him,’ Alexis pleaded through tears
Aiden’s mother quickly pulled over to the shoulder of State Route 55 following the shooting
A single bullet hole can be clearly seen following the shooting on Friday morning
A single bullet hole can be clearly seen following the shooting on Friday morning
‘Please help us find the people that did this to my little brother. He’s only six and he was so sweet. He was a very loving boy so please help us find who did this to him,’ Alexis pleaded through tears.
‘[My mom] had to hold her little boy as he died so she is very distraught right now,’ Alexis explained.
‘He was a rare toddler. I just loved having him in my life,’ she said as she paid tribute to the kindergartener who would often come to her room to tell her that he loved her.
A GoFundMe page set up for Aiden’s mother and to help with her child’s burial costs had raised close to $150,000 as of Sunday morning.
The horrific incident happened around 8:10am during the school run. Aiden was being taken to his kindergarten class at Calvary Chapel Yorba Linda.
Authorities are looking for a man and a woman. The male passenger is believed to have fired the fatal shot while his female accomplice was driving the vehicle, believed to be a newer model white Volkswagen wagon sedan.
Police investigators walk along the closed northbound lanes of the 55 freeway south of Chapman Avenue looking for evidence following a shooting on Friday
Police officers conducted a search along the freeway on Friday following the shooting
The California Highway Patrol closed the northbound lanes of the 55 freeway as police investigators walk the freeway looking for evidence following the shooting
‘You can tell it was a cowardly way of doing it because they shot her in the back pretty much,’ said the boy’s uncle John Cloonan.
‘You have no idea what you took from us today. You took her son away, her boy. This boy was full of love and joy and laughter,’ he continued.
‘I hope someone knows something and that whoever did this, I hope you can see what you’ve done to this family. Not that it matters much now because my nephew is dead. We’re never going to be full again.’
‘She [Aiden’s mother] was merging to the right side to get away from this person, and as you can see if you go online and look at the photos, there’s one bullet shot in the trunk that went through the trunk and right through my nephew,’ Cloonan explained.
Yellow crime scene tape stretches across the northbound lanes of the 55 freeway
A 6-year-old boy seated in the backseat of his mother’s car on a Southern California freeway was shot to death by another motorist on Friday
Traffic traveling northbound on the 55 freeway was diverted to the westbound 22 freeway as police investigators walked the freeway looking for evidence following the shooting
A six-year-old boy was shot and killed in what California police are calling an isolated road-rage incident that occurred on State Route 55 Friday morning
The child’s mother was driving this silver Chevy sedan when she flipped off another motorist for cutting her off, as she later told Good Samaritans who stopped to help
Late Friday night, police had not released the names of any wanted suspects.
‘It was an isolated road rage incident between the mom and another driver from a white sedan,’ California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera told KTLA-TV at the scene.
Olivera said the deadly gunshot came from a white sedan and struck the rear of a silver Chevrolet Sonic that was traveling ahead of it.
‘Unfortunately, the child that was seated in the right rear seat was struck,’ he said.
Aiden was pronounced dead at Children’s Hospital Orange County.
‘If your vehicle has a dashcam, we’re asking you, please call our CHP office in Santa Ana, provide that video,’ Olivera said.
‘If you were driving by, you saw something that was not right, call it in – even if it wasn’t something major – call our office. We want to hear from witnesses.’
Reyes and Joanna Valdivia told Orange County Register they were taking their children to school when they saw the visibly distressed driver of the Chevrolet pull her wounded son from the backseat and collapse to the ground.
Police are pictured on the scene of the road-rage shooting, in which a bullet when through the back of the Chevy and struck the six-year-old who was in his booster seat
The freeway was shut down for hours as about a dozen investigators slowly walked the lanes looking for evidence
When the couple pulled over to offer help, Reyes said the mother, whom he described as ‘hysterical,’ told them she had showed the middle finger to the driver of the white sedan who cut her off in the carpool lane.
The mother told the Good Samaritans that when she veered to the right, the white sedan followed her and a gunshot went off.
The freeway was shut down for hours as about a dozen investigators slowly walked the lanes looking for evidence.
CBS Los Angeles reported that there have been nearly a dozen pellet and BB gun shootings on freeways across Los Angeles, Orange and Riverside counties over the past three weeks, but Olivera said Friday’s road-rage killing was unrelated to those earlier incidents.
Tips may be provided by calling the CHP’s Santa Ana office at (714) 567-6000.
Reyes and Joanna Valdivia stopped to help the boy’s mother and spoke to her about the shooting