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Supporters rally for Detroit-area woman shot dead after car crash

Demonstrators protest against the killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride outside the Dearborn Heights Police Station in Dearborn Heights, Mi
Demonstrators protest against the killing of 19-year-old Renisha McBride outside the Dearborn Heights Police Station in Dearborn Heights, Mi

DEARBORN HEIGHTS, Michigan (Reuters) - Supporters of a 19-year-old suburban Detroit woman who was shot dead last week at a home where she sought help after a car accident held a rally in her honor on Thursday evening amid questions about what could have lead to her death.

About 40 people gathered outside the police station in Dearborn Heights, a Detroit suburb where the shooting occurred, demanding justice for the victim, Renisha McBride.

"We don't want this death shuffled aside. We want a full investigation to happen now," community activist David Bullock, who helped organize the event, said in an interview following the demonstration.

In a statement released before the vigil, McBride's family questioned the actions of the homeowner, who has not been identified by police.

"The alleged assailant did not, according to reports, immediately notify the police that the shooting had taken place," the statement said. "It was reported that instead neighbors contacted police about the shooting."

McBride got into a car accident and knocked on the homeowner's door about 2:30 a.m. on Saturday looking for help, Dearborn Heights Police Lieutenant James Serwatowski said.

The homeowner has told police that he thought McBride was trying to break into his house and that his shotgun accidentally discharged, striking her in the face, Serwatowski said. She died of her wounds on the front porch.

Serwatowski did not say how police were contacted about the shooting.

Police were still investigating the case, which they plan to turn over to the Wayne County prosecutor for possible charges, Serwatowski said.

The Detroit chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People suggested in a written statement that racial profiling could have played a role in the case. McBride was black and police have declined to discuss the race of the homeowner.

"Was this a racial profiling?" the organization said. "Was this shooting warranted when the evidence indicates that Ms. McBride had no weapon, created no disturbance, threatened no break-in, or demonstrated no disrespect to the household in question?"

A funeral for McBride, who according to her family worked for the Ford Motor Company, was scheduled for Friday morning.

(Reporting by Steve Neavling in Dearborn Heights and Kevin Murphy in Kansas City; Writing by Kevin Murphy; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)