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Highway shooting leaves one dead

POSTED November 19, 2010 11:17 p.m.

A Winton man was shot and killed Wednesday night while driving along Highway 99 in Atwater.

The victim was identified as 30-year-old Pheng Xiong by the Merced County Sheriff’s Department.

The shooting was reported at 7:45 p.m. Wednesday.

Xiong was driving a white Honda Civic northbound on Highway 99. He was in the area between Franklin and N. Buhach roads when a vehicle pulled up alongside him and fired several shots, according to the sheriff’s department.

Xiong was struck multiple times and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Honda Civic careened off the highway and smashed through a chain link fence before flipping over and crashing into the backyard of a home in the 4000 block of Ashby Road.

Exactly why Xiong was shot at remains under investigation, but the sheriff’s department does not believe it was a random attack.

“Detectives are working under the assumption that it has gang overtones,” sheriff spokesman Deputy Tom MacKenzie said of the shooting.

There were no descriptions available of the shooter or the suspect’s vehicle.

The shooting closed the highway down for several hours.

Anyone with information about the shooting is asked to contact the Merced County Sheriff’s Department at 385-7472.

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