Caught in the cross fire

MERCED, Calif.

Family members say 21-year-old Vang Thao went to Merced Community College with the goal of becoming a pharmacist.

Merced police say Thao was caught in the gunfire on December 3.

Police say that's when Kong Xiong pointed a loaded gun at two officers outside a party near Buckingham Court and Nottingham Avenue.

Detectives say Thao died after officers opened fire.

Merced police have since extended their apologies to Thao's family.

Family members addressed the incident during the weekend funeral service.

"Vang Thao paid the ultimate price of his life because someone else decided to be careless," cousin Koo Thao said.

Thao's friends tell Action News he was not a gang member.

The two officers involved in the shooting are on administrative leave, pending the results of an investigation.

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