The reward for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the road rage shooting death of a 6-year-old Costa Mesa boy on the Costa Mesa (55) Freeway grew to $320,000 Friday, a day after Orange County’s top prosecutor gave the two unidentified suspects a stern warning to turn themselves in and investigators released a photo of the vehicle used in last Friday’s attack.
Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner put up a $50,000 match to Aiden Leos’ family’s crowdfunded $50,000 and “it snowballed from there,” he said Thursday. “This community is coming together to see justice done.”
Supervisor Katrina Foley contributed $50,000 from her office’s discretionary budget, as well. The Board of Supervisors approved the $100,000 in contributions on Tuesday, and the Costa Mesa City Council is expected to add to the reward when it meets next week.
A consortium of local business leaders, including Bill Skeffington, CEO of Ben’s Asphalt, have offered up the rest, and he predicted the reward “will continue to grow.”
Station Donuts in Yorba Linda was doing a brisk business Friday, selling special turquoise donuts as a tribute to Aiden’s favorite color. The shop will be selling the donuts for $25 a dozen through Sunday, with all proceeds going to the family’s fund.
At a Thursday news conference where he was flanked by Aiden’s sister, District Attorney Todd Spitzer directed his comments to the woman and man who were in the car from which the shots were fired at the teen’s brother last Friday morning.
“We’re not messing around anymore,” Spitzer said. “So you choose door A or door B … Door A, we listen to what you have to say.”
Door B, he explained, involved throwing the book at the boy’s killer and anyone who helped him evade justice.
“You’ve got about 24 hours to turn yourself in or that door is closing on your future. I’m running out of patience,” Spitzer said, adding that “the longer this goes on, the less sympathetic I will be to understand you.”
Spitzer said it appears the woman was driving the suspect vehicle while a male passenger opened fire, killing the youngster, who was in the booster seat of his mother’s car as she drove him to kindergarten at Calvary Chapel school in Yorba Linda.
Spitzer said prosecutors in the county have solved cases going back 40 years and “will never rest” on holding the boy’s killer accountable.
“To the woman driving the car, you need to turn yourself in,” Spitzer said. “You are an accomplice… It’s not going to get any better for you.” Then, addressing the killer, he said, “You have to spend the rest of your life knowing you killed a 6-year-old boy.”
Skeffington added, “To the woman driving the car. Turn yourself in. Todd’s a great guy and I’m sure something can be worked out.”
Also on Thursday, California Highway Patrol officers released for the first time a photo of the suspect vehicle, described as a white Volkswagen Golf Sportswagen with non-tinted windows, possibly a 2018 or 2019 model.
Investigators have not been able to obtain a license plate number of the vehicle, which was last seen going eastbound on the Riverside (91) Freeway toward Riverside, said CHP Officer Florentino Olivera.
Appeals for tips from the public helped investigators gather the new information, Olivera said, adding that many new tips started pouring in after the release of the photo.
“Immediately after we put (out) the picture of the actual vehicle, we started getting more and more calls at the office and people utilizing our email and providing that information, so I believe the picture’s helped a lot and hopefully it’s going to lead to a break in the case,” he told KTLA on Friday.
Anyone with relevant information about the killing was asked to call the CHP at 714-567-6000. The CHP also has set up the firstname.lastname@example.org email to receive tips. Anonymous tips may also be phoned in to 800-TELL-CHP.
Another website has also been created to help collect tips from the public — www.aiden-reward.com.
“You might be in line for a reward, but you will certainly have done the right thing,” Wagner said. It’s possible that multiple people will share in the reward depending on how information leads to an arrest and conviction, he said.
Aiden’s 15-year-old sister, Alexis Cloonan, said “thank you on behalf of my mother” as she urged anyone with information to get in touch with investigators.
“Please, if you saw anything at all, please come forward,” she said Thursday.
Joanna Cloonan was driving a silver Chevrolet Cruze sedan with her son in the right rear passenger booster seat when another driver opened fire between 7:55 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. on the northbound Costa Mesa Freeway between the Garden Grove (22) Freeway and Chapman Avenue.
Reyes Valdivia and his wife stopped to help when they spotted Cloonan on the freeway shoulder pulling her son out from the passenger side of the car. He said she told them that when she tried to switch lanes to exit, a sedan with a man and woman inside cut her off and she gestured to them and proceeded into the exit lane, which is when the bullet entered the left side of trunk and struck her son.
She called 911 and the boy was rushed to Children’s Hospital of Orange County, where he was pronounced dead.