Demanding answers from Merced Police in man's death
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Merced Police say the man killed in an officer involved shooting over the weekend was not their intended target.
Vang Thao, 21, was killed Saturday after police were called to a house party near Buckingham Court and Nottingham Avenue.
Police say Thao was caught in the crossfire, when they shot a man who pointed a gun at officers. They have since offered their condolences. But, Thao's family says that's not enough.
Tuesday night, dozens of people gathered for a candlelight vigil outside the Merced home where Vang Thao was killed. Here, they cried and shared memories about the beloved 21-year-old.
"He loves us so much, and he does everything for us."
According to investigators, officers arrived at the home around 11 o'clock Saturday night after they got a tip about someone having a gun. Detectives say, when officers got there, 18-year-old Kong Xiong aimed a weapon at them and refused to put it down. That's when they opened fire, hitting Xiong in the leg. Thao was struck by a bullet as he stood nearby.
Freddy Camacho, the victim's friend said, "I'm more shocked and mad about what happened you know. It was just... can't explain it."
Freddy Camacho was a friend of Thao's. He lives in the home where the shooting happened, and pointed out this fence, which is now riddled with bullet holes.
In a statement to Action News, the Merced Police Department said, "Kong Xiong is responsible for the death of Mr. Vang. If Xiong had not pointed a weapon at our officers, they would not have opened fire and Mr. Thao would not be dead."
Thao's loved ones say that explanation is not enough.
Mai Phao, the victim's sister said, "You know losing somebody right before Christmas. It's really really hard."
Vang's siblings were among more than 100 people who demonstrated outside the Merced Police Department earlier in the day. Prior to more details being released in this case -- they questioned police about Thao's death.
Sue Thao, the victim's brother said, "What was the moral of it? We have questions. We just want to know what happened."
With those answers now coming to light, family members say they still have more questions. They are in the process of hiring an attorney, and vow to seek justice for Thao's death.
Vang's family says they are also upset because they have not been able to see his body. They say viewing the body is an important part of the grieving process in the Hmong community.
Meanwhile, police say the investigation is far from complete. They are still in the process of interviewing witnesses.
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