A White Michigan man who fired a shotgun at a Black teenager who knocked on his door earlier this year was sentenced to prison on Tuesday. Jeffrey Zeigler, 53, was sentenced to two to 10 years for assault with the intent to commit great bodily harm and two years for using a firearm during a felony, The New York Times reports. He will have to serve at least four years before he’s eligible for parole because his sentences must be served consecutively.
“I am full of remorse and regret,” said Zeigler in court on Tuesday. “I wish I could change something.”
In April, 14-year-old Brennan Walker stopped by Zeigler’s house to ask for directions after missing the school bus. “I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door. Then she started yelling at me and she was like, ‘Why are you trying to break into my house?’ I was trying to explain to her that I was trying to get directions to Rochester High [School]. And she kept yelling at me. Then the guy came downstairs, and he grabbed the gun, I saw it and started to run. And that’s when I heard the gunshot,” he told FOX 2 at the time.
Surveillance video from Zeigler’s home showed Brennan in the front of the house, Zeigler opening the door, Brennan running away and the retired firefighter shooting at the teenager.
“14 y/o Black Teen misses the bus to school & figures he knew the route well enough to walk the 4-mile route. He gets lost, stops to ask for directions, & nearly loses his life,” wrote Twitter user @_SJPeace_ in October.
Rochester Hills Michigan 6 months ago.
The surveillance footage was just released.
14 y/o Black Teen misses the bus to school & figures he knew the route well enough to walk the 4-mile route. He gets lost, stops to ask for directions, & nearly loses his life.
WHY WE KNEEL! pic.twitter.com/k3cnL3kO6u
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) October 11, 2018
Zeigler, who was convicted last month, claimed he thought the teen was breaking into his home, but the video didn’t corroborate his story. Robert J. Morad, his attorney, said he hoped the judge would have gone for a more lenient sentence, per the Times. “We were hoping the judge would go less than what she did,” said Morad.
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Teddy is a multimedia journalist who serves as the culture and political writer for EBONY. His work has appeared in NBC's Owned and Operated stations, as well as DNAInfo, which covered local neighborhood news in New York City. He received his Masters in Journalism from the Craig Newmark School of Journalism at CUNY in 2017.