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Houses, Cars Torched as Rioters Take to the Streets

June 18, 2003|From Associated Press

BENTON HARBOR, Mich. — Hundreds of people, reacting to the death of a motorcycle rider who was killed during a police pursuit, rioted for a second night Tuesday, setting houses and cars ablaze as authorities declared a state of emergency.

Authorities said one person was shot in the shoulder, four houses and five private cars were on fire and several police cars were damaged in this southwestern Michigan city of about 12,000 people.

More than 100 officers from the Michigan State Police, Benton Harbor and other nearby cities were on the scene in riot gear trying to control the crowd.

At least seven people had been arrested.

"Several hundred people are creating a significant disturbance in the streets," Berrien County Sheriff Lt. William Tucker said.

The violence stemmed from Monday's death of city resident Terrance Shurn, 28, who lost control of his speeding motorcycle while being chased by a police officer.

The death sparked three hours of unrest late Monday and early Tuesday that resulted in police being pelted with bricks and bottles.

The vacant two-story building that Shurn crashed into was set on fire, and the burning building was heavily damaged as firefighters were kept at bay by the crowd.

Gov. Jennifer Granholm approved a state of emergency that will allow for the National Guard to be brought in if needed.

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