The news of her son's death forced Joanna Cloonan to experience a pain that she never knew existed. "It feels like my life is over," she expressed.
Losing a child inflicts a perpetual and unfathomable pain in a parent's life that is unlike any other. Unfortunately, Joanna Cloonan was forced to experience this unimaginable heartbreak after losing her 6-year-old son, Aiden Leos, in an apparent road rage incident in Orange, California. What's worse, her son's killer is still on the loose. This is why Joanna has spoken out about the devastating incident, in an attempt to get justice for her late child. "They took my son's life away," shared Joanna as she appeared on Sunday's episode of Good Morning America. During her interview with Zohreen Shah, the grief-stricken mother expressed, "He was beautiful and he was kind and he was precious, and you killed him for no reason. And I want to find them and I want there to be justice to be served for my son."
💔 Outpouring of community support for 6 year-old Aiden Leos. https://t.co/DOZdaZ75WR @ABC7 pic.twitter.com/u3jvC21LKH— Marc Cota-Robles (@abc7marccr) May 24, 2021
The shocking shooting took place on Friday morning when Joanna was driving Aiden to School in Yorba Linda. She recalled driving northbound on the 55 Freeway in the carpool lane when a white sedan cut her off suddenly. Someone in the sedan began raining bullets at her car, which ultimately ended up striking Aiden who was seated in the back. Recalling the terrifying moment, the mother said, "As I started to merge away from them, I heard a really loud noise. And my son said, 'Ow,' and I had to pull over. And he got shot." His last words were, "Mommy, my tummy hurts." The same night, Aiden's uncle John Cloonan revealed that a single bullet managed to enter through the back of the vehicle and hit his nephew.
Even California Highway Patrol Officer Florentino Olivera said that the boy was sitting in his booster seat when he was struck during "some type of road rage incident." Although Joanna began administering life-saving measures immediately, her son could not be saved. "I pulled over and I took him out of the car and I tried to put my hand on his wounds while calling 911. Because he was losing a lot of blood," she recalled. Aiden was rushed to a local hospital where he was pronounced dead. For Joanna, the news of her son's death was like plunging a dagger into her heart. "He meant the world to me, and it feels like my life is over," shared the mourning mother. "That was my baby. I've never, never thought pain like this could exist."
This is so heartbreaking. 6 years old Aiden Leos who was shot and killed in his booster seat, last words were “mommy my stomach hurts.” 😭 https://t.co/AeJcJMv4g3— Dfhappy (@dfhappy) May 24, 2021
Thankfully, there was no one else in the car other than Joanna and her son. And though Joanna remained uninjured during the shooting, a part of her died with her son's demise. Now she is calling for justice, hoping that no one has to experience this kind of pain ever again. "I hope that people see this [interview] and understand that this is not OK, whatever and whoever these people are and for whatever reason, this is not OK," she said. "It should never happen again. So whatever help this does, that's my intention for my son." Joanna remembers seeing a woman driving the white sedan and a man in the passenger's seat. However, she is not sure as to who fired the weapon at her vehicle.
6 yr old Aiden Leos is being remembered at his Yorba Linda school today. Crisis counselors will be here to help fellow students and staff. @CBSLA pic.twitter.com/Y7SpcygAMv— Tina Patel (@tina_patel) May 24, 2021
During a press conference on Friday, officer Olivera urged people who were driving on the freeway in the area near Chapman Avenue at about 8 am to contact the CHP's Santa Ana office at 714-567-6000 for information. On Monday, Orange County Supervisor Don Wagner said, "I'm going to be offering to double the reward and make it an additional $50,000 for the reward for the killer of Aiden Leos." Meanwhile, Aiden's family is remembering their little boy, who just celebrated his 6th birthday last week, for the "most loving, kind soul" that he was. "Everybody he met, everybody he talked to, he would compliment them and be kind to them before he could talk," shared John. "He was walking up to you and putting his head on your shoulder, or your lap and kissing you. ... He was a beautiful, beautiful soul."
A GoFundMe page was created for the family which raised over $130,000 within a day before being taken down, according to The Sun. A second fundraiser was set up for the boy's father who could not even say goodbye to his son. "To get a phone call while at work from the CHP, to his heart racing only to think something happened to his son and then finally rushing to the hospital but it was too late. No last goodbye and no more smiles, hugs, or I love you’s. This is something a parent should never have to go through. He is so heartbroken that even a picture or the thought of his lil boy makes him break down," detailed the page. Aiden is survived by his mother, father, and sister Alexis. "I just want them to know what they took from the world today, what they took from my family. A little child of happiness. We’re never going to be full again," expressed Alexis according to Today.
If you wish to support the family during this troubling time, please click here to donate.
Cover Image Source: GoFundMe | 6yr Old Aiden Leos Killed in Road Rage Shooting