THE devastated family of a six-year-old boy shot and killed in an apparent road rage incident are pleading for the suspects involved to come forward.
Aiden Leos was fatally shot while riding in the back seat of his mother's car on Friday after she reportedly gave the middle finger to another driver for cutting her off on a highway in Orange, California.
The tragic incident unfolded on 55 freeway near Chapman at around 8am on Friday as Aiden's mother was driving him to kindergarten in her silver Chevrolet Sonic.
She gave the finger to a driver in her review mirror, but as she switched lanes, a male gunman believed to have been sitting in the passenger's seat of a car driven by a woman, suddenly fired into her vehicle.
The single gunshot struck little Aiden in the back. His mother pulled over to the side of the road and cradled him in her arms until an off-duty police officer raced over to administer CPR.
He was taken by ambulance to the Children’s Hospital of Orange County where he was pronounced dead.
Aiden's heartbreaking final words were said to be "Mommy, my tummy hurts."
As of early Saturday evening, the female driver and the male gunman remain at large.
No description of either suspect has been offered by police, though they were believed to be traveling in a newer model white Volkswagen sedan.
Aiden's distraught sister, Alexis Cloonan, spoke to the media on Friday and urged the public to help identify the pair.
"My mom is too distraught right now to talk so I'm down here for her because people should know what happened to my little brother," she said through tears.
"Please help us find the people that did this to my little brother. He's only six and he was so sweet."
Alexis also recounted Aiden's final moments of life and how her mother held him as he died.
"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.
"He was a rare toddler. I just loved having him in my life," she tearfully said.
The boy's uncle, John Cloonan, described for the media where the gunshot landed.
"There's one bullet shot in the trunk, went through the trunk and right through my nephew so you can tell it was a cowardly way of doing it because they shot her in the back pretty much.
"You took her [Aiden's mother] son away. You took her boy away. This boy was full of love and joy and laughter.
Cloonan said he is hoping the suspects or people who know them will encourage them to turn themselves in.
"I hope someone knows something and that whoever did this, I hope you can see what you've done to this family. Please turn them in, not that it matters much now because my nephew's dead so we're never gonna be, we're never gonna be full again."
Witness Reyes Valdivia, meanwhile, told the Orange County Register Aiden's mom told him and his wife that she “flipped off” the driver of a white sedan after he cut her off in the carpool lane.
“My wife noticed a lady pulling her son out and dropping to the ground with her son in her arms,” he said.
He recalled the woman saying “I got shot at in the car" adding that the bullet “went through the boy’s back”.
California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera said at a news conference that "there was some type of road rage incident".
"Unfortunately, the boy in the back seat was shot," he said.
A GoFundMe page set up for Aiden's family has raised more than $106,000 in 24 hours.
Authorities are hoping someone who may have information on Friday's fatal shooting or the wanted killer will come forward.
“If you were driving by, you saw something that was not right, call it in, even it wasn’t something major, call our office,” Olivera said.
Anyone with information, cell phone video, car dashcam video, or those who may have witnessed the shooting is urged to contact the California Highway Patrol Santa Ana Area Investigator Kevin Futrell at 714-567-6000.
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