Murder suspect was unaware that his bullet killed the boy for a week
A Southern California man who was charged with murder for allegedly shooting a six-year-old boy in a road rage incident told police he fired his gun after the boy’s mother made a rude gesture at him, a prosecutor said.
Aiden Leos was shot during the incident on 21 May when his mother Joanna Cloonan was driving the boy to kindergarten.
Murder suspect Marcus Eriz, 24, told police he fired his loaded gun at the woman, who gestured a middle finger at him after his girlfriend cut her off on a California freeway highway, prosecutors say.
In an incident that has led to public outrage in Orange County, the prosecutors file a detailed description of what they say happened leading up to the killing of the boy ahead of an arraignment and bail review hearing scheduled for Friday.
Prosecutors called Mr Eriz an “extreme danger” as days after the boy’s death he again brandished a gun at another driver on the freeway.
“This brazen act of threatening other commuters with a loaded firearm shows this Court that the Defendant cannot control his emotions and the smallest event can set him into a deathly rage,” prosecutor Whitney Bokosky wrote.
Mr Eriz did not know about the boy’s death until 28 May, a week after, when a co-worker pointed out to him that his Volkswagen looked just like the one police were looking for.
“He said he ‘immediately’ knew he was responsible for the boy’s death. He then told Wynne Lee about his revelation,” the court documents said.
Detailing the 21 May events, prosecutors say Aidan’s mother had put him in his booster seat in the back of the car. They were driving on the freeway when she was cut off by a car driven by Lee and Eriz, to which she responded by holding up her middle finger.
She then heard a “loud bang”. Her son said “ow” and she pulled over to see he was bleeding from the chest, the filings said. He died within hours.
Mr Eriz hid his Volkswagen in a garage belonging to a family member, and the couple began taking his red truck to work and back, the prosecutors allege. Mr Eriz also shaved his “substantial beard” and began wearing his hair back in a tie, the prosecutor wrote, and the couple applied for new jobs.
“There is no more serious crime than murder and murder of a child is one of the most egregious crimes one can think of,” prosecutor Bokosky wrote. “The defendant shot indiscriminately at a moving vehicle on a crowded freeway during rush hour on a Friday morning. Then, only days later, he threatened another motorist with the same fate.”
Mr Eriz was arrested on 6 June and charged with murder as well as firing into an occupied car. His girlfriend Ms Lee was charged with being an accessory.
He could face up to 40 years to life in prison and Ms Lee up to three years in state prison.
Mr Eriz is being held on $2m bail. Prosecutors said Ms Lee was also a flight risk and suggested her bail remain at $500,000.
Additional reporting by agencies