A white retired firefighter has been sentenced to at least four years in prison for shooting at a black teenager who came to his suburban Detroit home asking for directions to school. Jeffrey Zeigler apologized before he was sentenced Tuesday in Oakland County court. A jury convicted him last month of assault and a gun crime.
Brennan Walker, 14, wasn't hurt. He told police he missed a school bus on April 12 and knocked on Zeigler's door in Rochester Hills after getting lost. He ran after seeing a man inside the house grab a gun.
Zeigler, 53, said he woke up to his wife's screams and that she believed someone was trying to break into their home. Security footage showed him stepping out onto his front porch with the weapon. As the boy runs away, Zeigler is seen taking aim with a shotgun and firing in his direction. Walker was not injured.
"I wanted to fire more up in the air, more towards my shoulder, and I didn't get the chance to because like I said, it was slippery, and I didn't have a good grip on the gun," Zeigler testified. "I felt extremely remorseful. And I was -- I was just shocked."
Oakland County Sheriff Mike Bouchard, however, said the evidence on tape doesn't support the idea that Zeigler tripped and fired accidentally.
Zeigler will be eligible for parole after four years.