DETROIT – A white man who shot at a black teenager who came to his house to ask for directions was found guilty Friday of assault with intent to do great bodily harm.
The trial for retired Detroit firefighter Jeffrey Zeigler, 53, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, began Monday, with the jury reaching its verdict Friday.
The prosecution was hoping to convict Zeigler of assault with intent to murder, which could have meant life in prison. Zeigler is due in court Nov. 13 for sentencing.
In April, Brennan Walker, 14, told police he missed his school bus and knocked on Zeigler’s door in suburban Detroit to ask for directions after getting lost while walking to school.
Brennan said he ran after seeing a man inside the house grab a gun. He heard a gunshot, but was not hurt.
WJBK-TV in Detroit reported that Rochester’s wife, Dana, was the first to see the teenager at the door and then woke up her husband, who grabbed a shotgun.
“He didn’t look like a child. He was a rather big man standing there, and also, if he was going to school, we have no schools in our area,” she testified Tuesday in court.
In April, Oakland County sheriff’s deputies responded to a caller who reported that a black male was attempting to break into a house and that her husband chased him into the yard.
Police determined that the male homeowner chased Brennan into the yard and fired at him with a 12-gauge shotgun. They found Brennan – unharmed – down the street.
Surveillance video taken from Zeigler’s front porch, showed him chasing Brennan.
Zeigler testified that he woke up to his wife’s screams. He says she believed that someone was trying to break into their home.
Zeigler said in court this week that he felt remorseful and knew absolutely that he had done something wrong.
Brennan and his mother, Lisa Wright, told WXYZ-TV in Detroit earlier this year that they believed the shooting was racially motivated.
Contributing: Omar Abdel-Baqui, Detroit Free Press. Follow Meira Gebel on Twitter: @MeiraGebel
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