Charges were laid in Orange County Superior Court on Tuesday for two suspects in connection with the Interstate 55 shooting in Orange last month that resulted in the death of Aiden Leos, 6, of Costa Mesa.
Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, of Costa Mesa, has been charged with murder and shooting at an occupied vehicle, with sentence enhancements for causing serious injury or death by personal discharge from a firearm. If found guilty on all counts, Eriz could face 40 years in life.
Wynne Lee, 23, of Costa Mesa, who authorities said was driving the alleged car, was convicted of aiding and abetting after-the-fact murder and concealing a gun in 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 continued until Friday, June 18. Prosecutors have asked that Eriz’s bond be set at $ 2 million and Lee’s bond at $ 500,000.
Eriz reportedly opened fire in the back of a vehicle driven by Aiden’s mother, Joanna Cloonan, on the morning of Friday, May 21. The apparent road rage incident happened as Aiden was taken to a kindergarten class in Yorba Linda.
The California Highway Patrol investigated and was looking for a white Volkswagen that was seen with a passenger believed to be the gunman and a driver. The arrests in the case were made on Sunday in Costa Mesa, authorities said.
CHP deputy chief Don Goodbrand said the suspect vehicle was found at a different location from where the arrests were made during a press briefing at the CHP office in Santa Ana on Monday. He added that a weapon that was allegedly used in the crime had been found.
Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer noted that the case resonated with the community because driving on the freeway is an experience shared by so many people.
Spitzer also commented in Monday’s briefing that promises shouldn’t be made regarding the criminal justice system, but that notion didn’t suit him.
“We don’t want to make any promises, but there is something about it that leaves me a little empty because I want to promise today, when Aiden was put underground, that we will get justice for him,” he said. Spitzer said. “We have to promise him that.
“It’s so important for this little boy to set an example for the rest of society on how we treat each other, and how we operate, and how we lose control so quickly today and take measures against other people, and some people think without any responsibility. “
The suspects were apprehended in Costa Mesa, where Orange County supervisor Katrina Foley previously served as mayor.
“It doesn’t reflect the Costa Mesa as a whole, but I’m just happy that enough people sent in enough information that we could find the killer,” Foley said. “I think DA Spitzer was right, in terms of the comments, that the reason 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, ‘Wow, could this happen to me, my family? As a mom, it really touched me.
After a crowdfunding effort, Aiden’s family posted a $ 50,000 reward for the information that aided the investigation. Orange County Supervisors Donald Wagner and Foley each contributed $ 50,000 from their respective office discretionary budgets, and Costa Mesa City Council also approved a $ 50,000 contribution to the award.
The plaintiffs continued to make their way to the 55 Freeway overpass at Walnut Avenue, near the scene of the shooting, the day after the arrests.
Kristal Vinous, 29, from Anaheim came with her boyfriend and left a teddy bear at the makeshift memorial site.
“I was actually driving that way the day it happened, so I saw all the CHP officers get off, and I was wondering what was going on,” Vinous said. “Right away, I just looked, and I figured out what had happened, and it broke my heart to know that he’s a 6 year old boy.
“I know it’s such a contradiction to say it, but I also feel joyful right now because they’ve caught people suspected of this.”
Gina Nubia, 23, of Orange said she felt safer after the arrests. She added that the support of the community, which has seen the award money soar to $ 500,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction in the case, was a hard-hitting statement.
“It was a very powerful feeling,” Nubia said. “I feel like every day everyone just wanted them to get caught… I’m a mom myself, and it’s just a really strong feeling when someone hurts your kids. “
At Monday’s briefing, Goodbrand did not discuss the award money, but said “hundreds of tips” had been received from the public and useful information had been received.