High school student Brennan Walker came close to death on April 12 after sleeping in and missing the bus to school, the Washington Post reported. Lacking a phone to use, Walker decided to knock on his neighbor’s doors to ask for help and directions. Jeffrey Zeigler, however, became suspicious when the 14-year-old approached his home in Rochester Hills, Missouri.
Zeigler’s wife was the one to initially answer the door, and apparently began to accuse the boy of attempting to rob them. She yelled at the boy, and that’s what prompted her husband to spring into action, grabbing a shotgun.
“I was scared,” Walker recounted to a jury this week. “I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren’t listening.”
Walker ran, and Ziegler fired one shot at the boy, which he dodged. The whole incident was captured on what appears to be a security camera on Ziegler’s front porch. The video was replayed for the jury during trial this week, where Ziegler is facing the charges of assault with intent to murder and use of a firearm in a felony. If convicted for the first charge, Ziegler could face life in prison.
Ziegler’s attorney is stating that race was not a factor in the attack. Zeigler is white, while Walker is black. Walker’s mother, Lisa Wright, disagrees.
“You can hear the wife say, ‘Why did these people choose my house?’ Who are ‘these people?’” Wright said about the footage of the incident. “And that set me off. I didn’t want to believe it was what it appeared to look like. When I heard her say that, it was, like, but it is.”
Ziegler’s attorney, Rob Morad, said that the couple were on “high-alert” after 5 previous break-ins, and that Ziegler “acted from passion instead of judgment.” Detective Shawn Pace questioned Ziegler to point out in the footage where Walker seemed like a threat. He was unable to.
Zeigler at one point claimed that he slipped and accidentally fired the gun, but the footage shows him pausing for a few seconds before ultimately firing. Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard described the situation as “absurd,” and that he felt “terrible for the young man,” while Pace said he was “offended” by the footage. Official County Sheriff’s Deputy Jason Marshall, however, said that he can’t actually tell from the video where Ziegler is aiming.
As of now, the trial is still ongoing.
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