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Two people have been reportedly arrested in the fatal suspected road rage shooting incident in Orange County that killed a 6-year-old boy last month. Aiden Leos was shot as he was sitting in a booster seat in his mother’s car while on his way to kindergarten on a California highway. He died at the hospital. At the time of the incident, police did not know how many shots were fired or what led to the shooting.
In a news release from the California Highway Patrol and quoted by CNN, the suspects were identified as Marcus Anthony Eriz, 24, and Wynne Lee, 23. The suspects were arrested at their home in Costa Mesa after investigators conducted an intensive manhunt, and are reportedly expected to be charged with murder. According to the Orange County Jail roster, Eriz and Lee are being held on a $1 million bond.
CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said in the release: “While these arrests will not ease the pain of a mother’s loss, my hope is for the Leos family to have some peace of mind and to rest assured the CHP will work with the Orange County District Attorney to bring justice for Aiden.”
Aiden’s sister Alexis Cloonan reportedly explained to reporters how the incident occured. “There was road rage on the freeway and someone pulled out a gun and shot my little brother in the stomach,” she said. “He said, ‘Mommy my tummy hurts,’ so she went and she picked him up and he was bleeding on her. She had blood on her clothes.”
According to Carsurance, road rage is the leading cause of collisions and an estimated 30 murders are associated with road rage every year. Data gathered by SafeMotorist determined that 66% of all recent traffic fatalities were directly linked to instances of aggressive driving. Disturbingly, 37% of those deaths were caused by a firearm and not an actual driving accident, which proves the point that instances of road rage often end in very tragic circumstances.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer reportedly said shooting into an occupied vehicle carries a maximum of seven years in state prison. In Orange County, where sentencing enhancements may be filed, the suspects can be sentenced from 25 years to life in prison.
Aggressive driving is responsible for over half of all recent traffic fatalities. In California, aggressive behavior, sometimes known as road rage, has been added to the list of behaviors included in the state’s reckless behavior laws. Aggressive driving greatly increases the likelihood of sustaining severe injuries in a car accident, and possibly even death. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has determined that more than 11,000 people are killed yearly in car crashes caused by aggressive driving.
Moreover, as traffic has returned back to its nightmarishly normalcy after a year of quarantine, so has road rage. According to LAPD data quoted by Crosstown, there were 172 incidents of road rage in Los Angeles from Jan. 1 to Apr. 15. This represents a nearly 7% increase from the 161 in the same time last year. In Mar. 2021 alone, there were 53 road rage incidents reported to police, compared with 35 in the same month last year. The LAPD recorded 20 incidents in the first 15 days of Apr., up from just 12 during the same time period in 2020.
ABC7 did a deep dive into 2018 California Highway Patrol stats and found that nearly two-thirds of fatal crashes in Southern California were caused by factors associated with road rage. Quoted in the same article, California is the fourth worst state to drive in, coming in 42nd for traffic congestion and 48th for road quality.