Fourteen Year Old Asking For Directions To School Shot At By Neighbor
Jeffery Zeigler is a White man of 53 years-old. He lives in the Christian Hills subdivision of Rochester Hills, Oakland County, Michigan. He is a retired Detroit firefighter. Because of his actions on Thursday, he has been arraigned on charges including assault with intent to murder and felony firearms.
On Thursday, April 12, 2018, Zeigler’s wife called 911 and reported that her husband had chased a Black male who tried breaking into their house. Oakland County Sheriff deputies learned that a shot had been fired and found the 14-year old Brennan Walker down the street, unarmed.
Brennan told deputies that he missed his school bus. His mother had taken away his phone so he didn’t have that to use to get directions. He tried walking the bus route, but got lost. He knocked on the door to Zeigler’s house. A woman inside began yelling “why are you trying to break into my house?” Brennan said he tried to explain to her that he was trying to get directions to Rochester High, but she continued yelling.
Jeffrey Zeigler came downstairs and grabbed a gun. When Brennan saw the gun, he started to run. While he was running away, Zeigler fired a shotgun. Brennan ran further, hid, and broke down crying.
The Zeigler’s have home security video, and their story is contrary to what the video shows.
Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright, said it was clear to her what was behind the shooting after investigators showed her the security video.
“After watching the video and hearing the wife say ‘why did these people choose my house?’ I knew it was racially-motivated,” Wright told WXYZ-TV. “I don’t know what other ‘these people’ she could possibly have been talking about. He was by himself. Wright said people in the neighborhood shouldn’t be afraid of a child, ‘let alone a skin tone.’”
Fox News 2 told Lisa that her son almost became a hashtag.
“Exactly, and that’s exactly how I feel. Like, wow. Because you were trying to get to school. I found out later the only reason [the man] missed is because he forgot to take the safety off.”
Lisa was at work when she got the call from the Sheriff’s office, and her husband is deployed in Syria.
At his bond hearing, Zeigler attempted to tell Judge Julie Nicholson a historically acknowledged race based defense — he was protecting his wife who was screaming and crying. Judge Nicholson stopped Zeigler from continuing his story because he did not have an attorney present.
Zeigler’s bond was set at $50,000. He was ordered to have no contact with Brennan nor his family. He was ordered to wear a GPS tether and to turn over any weapons to the sheriff’s office. Judge Nicholson also ordered that Zeigler stay at least 10 miles from Brennan’s Rochester Hills home, which means that Zeigler cannot return to his house in the same subdivision.
Judge Nicholson set an April 24 probable cause conference and May 1 preliminary exam.
This brings back memories of Renisha McBride and Ted Wafer. Wafer was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to at least 17 years in prison for shooting and killing 19-year old Renisha. Wafer filed an appeal to his sentencing, alleging that jurors should have been given an instruction that he shot Renisha McBride because her actions showed she was breaking into his house. Judge Dana Hathaway who presided over Wafer’s trial explained self-defense to the jury, but rejected that specific instruction saying there was no evidence that McBride, who was intoxicated and crashed her car, was trying to break into Wafer’s home.
This week, the Michigan Supreme Court upheld Judge Hathaway’s decision, with Chief Justice Stephen Markman dissenting.