Family claims mistaken identity in Merced Hwy shooting

MERCED COUNTY, Calif.

Sheriff Mark Pazin says someone specifically targeted Pheng Xiong Wednesday night. Detectives believe gang members may have been involved in the shooting, but Xiong's family says this was a case of mistaken identity, and he was an innocent victim.

Grieving family members gathered at the home of Pheng Xiong's parents in Merced to remember the man they describe as a loving father and hard-working husband.

The victim's sister, Maisee Xiong said, "He always goes to work every day trying to support his kids and wife, and he loved fishing, hunting. I mean he's a really good person, really outgoing, funny, everybody loves him."

The 30-year-old flipped his white Honda off Highway 99 and into a backyard Wednesday night after detectives say someone shot him several times from inside another car.

Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin said, "It was a crazy act. That vehicle careened out of control, almost struck that house where people were actually living."

Witnesses who did not want to speak on camera said it was very scary hearing the gunshots and then seeing how close the car came to hitting the house. Authorities shut down the highway for hours, causing major traffic delays, as they searched for evidence.

Sheriff Pazin adds, "There was rounds and shell casings up and down the freeway that we had to collect."

Sheriff Mark Pazin says the shooting may be gang-related, but the victim did not have a criminal history or any known gang ties. Xiong's father insists his son was innocent. He proudly showed us his Lao Veterans of America I.D. card and said he left Laos to protect his family from violence there only to have his son shot to death here.

Gia Sue Xiong said, "He just wants to let everyone know that, that he's very sad."

Xiong's sister believes her brother was targeted because gang members mistook his Honda Civic for that of a rival gang member. Detectives are still investigating who killed him and exactly why.

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