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Another Trayvon Incident? Protesters Call For Justice After Woman Was Killed While Searching For Help

DEARBORN HEIGHTS (WWJ/AP) - Protesters and civil rights groups are calling for justice after a Dearborn Heights homeowner fatally shot a young woman on the porch of his home.

Renisha McBride, 19, of Detroit, was killed by a shotgun blast at a home in the 16000 block of Outer Drive around 2:30 a.m. Saturday.

Family members say McBride had been seeking help at the home after her cell phone died following a car accident. They say McBride, who is African-American, was shot in the back of the head as she turned to leave, and think her death is a case of racial profiling.

David Alexander Bullock, founder of Change Agent Consortium, likened the case to that of Trayvon Martin, the Florida teenager who was killed by a neighborhood watch volunteer.

"Dearborn Heights may have its own Trayvon Martin case. A young African-American woman is dead and the shooter is claiming her death was justified," Bullock said in a statement. "If this had occurred in Detroit we know what the outcome would have been -- the same value placed on white lives should be placed on black lives. We all deserve justice."

Police said McBride was actually shot in the front of her face, near her mouth. They requested a warrant in the case, but the Wayne County Prosecutor's Office sent the request back on Wednesday for additional investigation before making a charging decision.

The race and identity of the 54-year-old homeowner, along with the charges against him, have not been released. Police say the man told them he thought someone was trying to break into his home and accidentally discharged the gun.

A vigil was held Wednesday at the man's home, while about 50 people rallied outside the police department on Thursday.

Protesters walked the streets, passing out fliers to local residents that read in part: "A man in this neighborhood shot and killed a teenaged woman after she sought help following a car accident. ... We demand our neighbor who shot and killed teenager Renisha McBride be held accountable for his actions! Call Dearborn police now and demand justice."

Tawana Petty, who was visibly upset, said she can't believe the homeowner hasn't been charged yet.

"Enough is enough. Where is this man, who is he connected to and why don't we know who he is? Why is he not in jail? If my son was 19 and shot somebody he would be under that jail. This is wrong! This is wrong and everybody needs to be out here complaining about it," Petty told WWJ's Russ McNamara.

Justice for Renisha
Protesters demand justice for Renisha McBride, a 19-year-old who was killed while seeking help after a car accident. (Credit: Russ McNamara/WWJ Newsradio 950)

Peggy Jarvis, of Warren, said things like this happen due to a lack of compassion.

"I think our hearts need to change, that we start seeing each other as one family, as one humanity, and understanding of each other's stories and each other's plight," Jarvis said.

The homeowner's lawyer, Cheryl Carpenter, told The Detroit News her client feels that the shooting was "justified."

"I'm confident when the evidence comes it will show that my client was justified and acted as a reasonable person would who was in fear for his life," Carpenter said.

McBride's death has drawn attention from civil rights groups, including the NAACP and the Rev. Al Sharpton's National Action Network. They called in part for a thorough investigation into the shooting.

"We are in prayer for the family of Renisha Mcbride but we are also urgently calling for justice," Sharpton said in a statement.

And justice is exactly what the family wants, according to McBride's aunt Bernita Spinks.

"He shot her in the head … for what? For knocking on his door? If he felt scared or threatened, he should have called 911," Spinks told the Detroit News. "You see a young black lady on your porch and you shoot? There was no window broken. My niece didn't bother anyone. She went looking for help and now she's dead."

MORE: Young Black Woman Killed, Allegedly Shot While Knocking On Door For Help

TM and © Copyright 2013 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2013 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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