California Highway Patrol officials said Monday that they believe they have recovered the gun used to kill 6-year-old Aiden Leos on the 55 Freeway last month, as well as the vehicle from which a passenger fired the deadly shot.
Surveillance, investigation and tips all played a part in identifying the suspects in the killing of Aiden, officials said. After the May 21 shooting on the 55 Freeway left the Orange County community saddened and in shock, investigators with the California Highway Patrol circulated an image of a white vehicle said to belong to the suspects.
In the weeks that followed, officials received hundreds of calls and emails, they said. A reward for an arrest and conviction — funded by family members, donations, county officials and local businesses — climbed to $500,000.
The effort led to two suspects, 24-year-old Marcus Anthony Eriz and 23-year-old Wynne Lee, who were taken into custody at their home in Costa Mesa on Sunday.
On Monday, CHP officials said they received a tip and worked to enhance an image of the license plate on the vehicle, which led them to identify the couple. They then began to investigate the couple’s backgrounds and determined that they commuted along the 91 corridor to two workplaces in the Inland Empire.
Investigators were then able to determine that the couple were in the area of the shooting at the time it occurred.
A photo of 6-year-old Aiden Leos covers his memorial service program.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)
At a Monday afternoon media briefing, Orange County Dist. Atty. Todd Spitzer said Eriz and Lee would be arraigned Tuesday and a decision on the charges to be filed would be made by then.
“We are reviewing the evidence and we’re looking at every single legal theory in conjunction with that evidence,” he said.
Spitzer said the suspects had ignored his requests to turn themselves in and now they would be held accountable.
“At this point, quite frankly, I have absolutely no empathy or sympathy whatsoever,” he said.
Louis Shapiro, a prominent criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles, said Spitzer is more likely to file a second-degree murder charge against the shooter because the prosecutor needs to be able to demonstrate to a jury that the shooter “acted deliberately with conscious disregard for human life.”
He said it would be difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the shooter committed first-degree murder because it has not appeared to have been a premeditated act.
Shapiro said the driver will probably be charged with being an accessory to the crimes for which the shooter is charged.
CHP Assistant Chief Donald Goodbrand said information from the public had been “extremely helpful” but he declined to discuss the reward money and whether someone was eligible to claim it. He said the gun was found someplace other than the Costa Mesa home where the two suspects live.
A white 2018 Volkswagen Golf SportWagen SE registered to Lee’s parents was recovered by CHP officials and impounded Sunday evening as evidence in a murder case, according to records reviewed by The Times. It fits the description of the vehicle circulated by officials in connection with the fatal shooting.
The Volkswagen was registered to an address where Lee had lived with her parents, but it was recovered from an address in Whittier where Eriz’s father lived in the mid-1990s, according to public records. The owner of the home may be one of Eriz’s relatives.
Eriz had also received at least four traffic citations in Orange County in recent years, including a November 2020 citation for failing to obey lane signs for high occupancy vehicles. Authorities believe Lee was the driver and Eriz was the shooter the day of Aiden’s death.
Eriz also showed knowledge and ownership of firearms through purchases and on social media. One of the weapons he displayed in posts on his Instagram account was capable of delivering the deadly round, officials said.
Aiden was riding in a booster seat in the back of his mother’s car when he was struck by a bullet in an apparent act of road rage. His mother held him in her arms until paramedics arrived. Doctors could not save him.