Man Who Shot a Detroit Woman Looking for Help Says it Was an Accident

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The homeowner who shot and killed 19-year-old Renisha McBride on Saturday morning as she apparently searched for help following a car accident has told investigators that his firearm went off accidentally. The shot hit McBride on her face, near her mouth, Dearborn Heights chief detective Lt. James Serwatowski told the Detroit Free Press. A few hours before her death, McBride, who is black, was involved in a car accident in the mostly white Detroit suburb, the official confirmed. The homeowner has not been publicly identified by police, nor have officials released identifying details on the shooter aside from the fact that he is male.

McBride's family, through Detroit Pastor W.J. Rideout, went public with the story this week. According to the family, McBride's cell phone was out of batteries that night, and the teenager was likely looking for a house that would let her use a phone to make a call. Neighbors at the scene reportedly overheard cops say that the homeowner mistook McBride for a burglar. But police have confirmed almost nothing about McBride's death. It's not even clear at this point whether her shooter will face prosecution. The Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office told Dearborn Heights police to gather more information on the death before the office would consider filing charges. Serwatowski said to the Free Press on Thursday, “I know the family is anxious to see this man (the alleged shooter) charged but the prosecutor’s office is telling us they want a lot more information before they make a decision." 

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Michigan, it has been noted, has a "stand your ground" law similar to the law in Florida that played a major role in the discussion of Trayvon Martin's death at the hands of George Zimmerman. Speaking to ABC on Wednesday, Rideout elaborated on why this case has resonance nationally: 

"This is a senseless murder.. We will not tolerate another Trayvon Martin, another Jonathan Ferrell. And here we have Renisha McBride, the third African-American who didn't have a weapon in her hand and didn't do anything to deserve being shot."

This isn't the only story emerging from the Detroit area this week that raises questions for some about how we talk about race, and violence, in the U.S.: Detroit had one of its most violent single incidents on record this week, when three died and at least 7 were wounded at a mass-shooting in a city barbershop. The shooting may have been related to gambling disputes between parties involved. The shooting in the troubled city garnered significantly less attention as it unfolded compared to a series of other violent incidents across the country in recent weeks. 

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.