Wynne Lee and Marcus Eriz are the two suspects accused in the fatal road rage shooting death in California of 6-year-old Aiden Anthony Leos.
Marcus Anthony Eriz is an auto body technician who brandished guns at shooting ranges on his Instagram page; Lee is the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants who was featured in stories about depression among Asian-American teens. Both are from California.
Aiden’s death on May 21, 2021, has outraged and galvanized the community. The boy was shot and killed on the 55 Freeway in Orange, California. Lee and Eriz were arrested in Costa Mesa, California, on Sunday, June 6, 2021, according to the California Highway Patrol, and they are “expected to be charged with murder,” a news release said.
Authorities said in a news release the boy was shot in “a road rage incident over a perceived unsafe lane change.” The California Highway Patrol called the suspect Eriz Marcus Anthony in the news release, but jail records and his social media accounts give his name as Marcus Anthony Eriz.
Authorities said they believe that Lee was the driver, and Eriz fired the gunshots that killed Aiden.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Aiden Was Shot as His Mother Drove Him to School; Eriz, Who Described Himself as a ‘Welder From a Small Town,’ Posted About Guns on Instagram
According to ABC News, Aiden was shot and killed on May 21, 2021, as his mother Joanna Cloonan was “driving him to school.”
Cloonan told ABC News that “a white sedan cut her off abruptly while she was in the carpool lane … on the 55 Freeway.”
Authorities released this mugshot of Eriz. CHP Border Division Chief Omar Watson said in a news conference that law enforcement conducted an “extensive manhunt” for the suspects. Both suspects are residents of Costa Mesa, and Watson said they recovered the car and weapon they believe were used in the crime.
“The arrests follow the May 21, 2021, shooting on SR-55,” the news release from CHP states. “Joanna Cloonan was driving a silver Chevrolet Sonic, approaching SR-22, while her son, Aiden Anthony Leos, was seated in the rear passenger area. Ms. Cloonan and the occupants of a white Volkswagen station wagon were involved in a road rage incident over a perceived unsafe lane change. A shooting occurred when an occupant in the Volkswagen fired at least one round from an unknown caliber pistol into the rear of the Chevrolet Sonic, killing Aiden.”
Aiden was shot in the back seat.
“They took my son’s life away,” Cloonan told ABC’s “Good Morning America.”
“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.”
On Instagram, Eriz filled his page with videos showing him shooting guns at shooting ranges. He also filled his page with pictures of cars he was working on. With one photo of guns lying on a blanket, he wrote, “Quarantine and clean anyone ?? #glock #americantactical #ar15.”
“Some more LT. Dan shots lol,” he wrote with one video showing him firing a gun. “Just did some f***** around today lol,” he wrote with another photo showing him firing a gun at a shooting range.
His most recent Instagram post came in April. His Facebook profile picture is completely black.
On Facebook, Eriz called himself a “young welder from a small town tryna figure out how to live in the big city.”
2. Eriz & Lee Are Boyfriend & Girlfriend; Lee Was Featured in Stories Talking About Depression
According to The Press-Enterprise, Eriz and Lee are dating. His social media accounts don’t make mention of her, though.
Eriz is 24 years old and Lee is 23.
According to CBS Los Angeles, authorities followed the couple from a restaurant before arresting them. Authorities believe they know the location of the couple’s gun and car and “are working to secure the firearm,” according to CBS LA.
A 2015 news story on KHN featured Lee and her struggles with depression. According to KHN, Lee grew up in the San Gabriel Valley’s suburbs, the daughter of Taiwanese immigrants. Her depression caused her to miss more than a quarter of her freshman year at Diamond Bar High School and nearly as many the following year, KHN reported.
She was one of three children in a tight-knit family; her father worked in manufacturing, and her mother was a stay-at-home mom. At one point, Lee attempted suicide by swallowing pills. The article quotes Lee’s journal: “The suicidal thoughts are seeping back here and there by droplets. … Therapy and counseling are so not … helping me either. All we do in these sessions is chat. I’m not feeling any better. I’m still not able to handle this at all. I’m not healing.”
According to KHN, Lee’s mother worked hard to get her help and she was in therapy but accepted that depression and loneliness were part of her life, saying, “I’ve accepted it as part of who I am.” Her social media accounts are deleted.
She was also listed as a community storyteller in a panel discussion on Obamacare put on by the USC Annenberg Norman Lear Center. “These stories included a young woman named Wynne Lee, a student at Diamond Bar High School, who suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide after repeated bullying in school; Lee eventually found help and support through the mental health services offered by the Asian Pacific Family Center,” according to a post about the panel.
3. Neither Appears to Have a Criminal History, but Eriz Has Previous Traffic Violations
Online court records for Orange County do not show a criminal history for Lee or Eriz.
Eriz does have some traffic violations listed in the system, including failure to have insurance, unauthorized driving in an HOC lane and failure to have a driver’s license.
“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,” CHP Commissioner Amanda Ray said in the department’s news release.
Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer said in a news conference that the reason police were able to “crack this case” was because there was so much community interest “in this little boy… it’s because it could have happened to any of us. We all drive the freeways of Southern California… but it’s never come to a situation of violence.”
Spitzer said “we’re all literally torn up about it.”
4. Court Records Say Eriz Works as a Car Detailer, Though His Instagram Profile Indicates He’s an Auto Body Technician
According to jail records obtained by Heavy, they list Eriz as a car auto detailer. The Press-Enterprise reported Eriz and Lee both work in Highland in San Bernardino County.
On Instagram, Eriz called himself, “Auto body Technician…Welder/fabricator💪🏼 jdm car enthusiast 🔰 Goal Orientated Stay True.” On Facebook, he says he was a “body shop worker” at a Chevrolet dealer who previously worked at Krispy Kreme and a pizza company, went to Trinity High School, and was from Weaverville, California.
Heavy contacted the California employer Eriz listed on his Instagram page. The manager said he hadn’t worked for the company since the beginning of the year, and he left for a better opportunity. He said that Eriz didn’t seem like he was the kind of person who would do something like the crime reported and the company officials plan to reach out to Aiden’s family in support.
That business was Platinum Collision in Corona. His former boss, Tom Gregg, and his wife, attended Aiden’s memorial and told CBS LA, “We didn’t see any violent tendency in him. We have a lot of employees and I don’t think anyone triggered HR and said this guy has this and this.” He recently tried to get his job back, Gregg said.
A neighbor told the television station, “I always thought he was arrogant for one, noisy, did what he wanted to do and didn’t care about anyone else.”
Lee is unemployed, according to online jail booking records. An old LinkedIn page in Lee’s name also says a person with that name once worked at a waffle and chicken restaurant in Costa Mesa.
Both are being held in the Orange County Jail on $1 million bail. Online records indicate that Lee has long ties to California, extensive family in the area, and an old LinkedIn page in her name indicates attendance for a time at a California university.
5. A GoFundMe Page to Help Aiden’s Mother Has Raised More Than $340,000
There is a GoFundMe page designed to help Aiden’s mom. It’s raised more than $340,000.
“I’m reaching out to the public to help Aidens mother pay for her needs including replacing her car and living expenses while she is not able to work. Six year old Aiden was tragically killed in a road rage incident in Orange, CA on 5/21/21 and died in his mother’s arms as the suspect was aiming for her! This is my granddaughter in the photo and Aiden is her brother. Thank you for your loving support,” it reads.
A follow-up message says, “As a family we are overwhelmed by your generosity & support of Aiden’s mother, Joanna and his older sister Alexis and on behalf of Aiden’s father during this difficult time. Your support has made them know they are loved & supported. While the Memorial for Aiden tomorrow is only open to family and close friends, please know it is because of your generosity & support that we can give Aiden this beautiful memorial.”