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‘She had to hold her little boy as he died’: 6-year-old’s family, California police seeking shooter in road rage death – USA TODAY

Hours after police say a 6-year-old boy was fatally shot in a Southern California road rage incident on Friday, his sister tearfully pleaded for the public’s help as police continued to search for the shooter.

The boy, identified by family as Aiden Leos, was sitting in the backseat of his mother’s car when another driver shot and killed him, authorities said. Aiden was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital.

The kindergartener was being driven to school by his mother when the shooting happened.

Alexis Cloonan, the boy’s sister, said Aiden told his mother, “Mommy, my tummy hurts” after he was shot, according to a Fox 11 Los Angeles livestream of a Friday news conference. His mother saw blood on the boy’s stomach and noticed him start to turn blue.

“And that was the last time my mom saw him alive,” Cloonan said.

Cloonan called Aiden “a rare toddler” and said he would call her “sissy” and come into her room to tell her she was beautiful and that he loved her.

“He’s only 6, and he was so sweet,” she said. “He was very, very loving boy, so please help us find who did this to him.”

Cloonan said her mother is “very distraught.”

“She had to hold her little boy as he died,” she said.

A GoFundMe page organized to help Aiden’s mother pay for burial costs and replace her car has garnered more than $100,000 in donations.

The boy’s uncle, John J. Cloonan III, said at the press conference that photos show a bullet shot through the truck and hit Aiden.

Police investigators walk along the closed northbound lanes of the 55 freeway south of Chapman Avenue looking for evidence following a shooting, Friday, May 21, 2021 in Orange, Calif. 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, authorities said.

“You have no idea what you took from us today…You took her boy away,” he said. “And this boy was full of love and joy and laughter.”

“My nephew’s dead,” he added. “We’re never going to be full again.”

A California Highway Patrol officer described the shooting to KTLA-TV as an “isolated road rage incident between the mom and another driver.”

The CHP asked for assistance from any drivers who were near where the shooting occurred between 7:55 a.m. and 8:15 a.m. on the northbound side of State Route 55 in the city of Orange, about 30 miles southeast of Los Angeles. The freeway was shut down for hours following the shooting as investigators searched for evidence.

Contributing: The Associated Press

Contact News Now Reporter Christine Fernando at cfernando@usatoday.com or follow her on Twitter at @christinetfern.