Michigan man found guilty of shooting at teen who asked for directions

Posted at 10:00 PM, Oct 12, 2018
and last updated 2018-10-13 00:00:06-04

A Michigan man who fired a gun at a teenager asking for directions was found guilty Friday of assault with intent to do great bodily harm in the April incident, which was captured on video in vivid detail.

The jury at Oakland County Circuit Court also found Jeffrey Craig Zeigler, 53, guilty of possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

Zeigler had been on trial on a charge of assault with intent to murder for shooting at 14-year-old Brennan Walker, who was not hurt.

Brennan was walking alone to school on April 12 after he missed the bus. As he trekked the 4 miles to Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, about 20 miles north of Detroit, he got lost and knocked on the doors of several houses, he said.

The teen went up to Zeigler’s home and knocked on the door a few times.

A woman came to the door, yelling at him, he told CNN affiliate WDIV.

“I was trying to explain to that I wanted to get directions to go to my school,” he said. The man eventually came out with a shotgun and fired one shot at the teen who was running away.

Brennan said he fled when he saw the man with the shotgun.

Color footage of the shooting, which WDIV said was from home security video, was played in court this week. It showed Brennan walking up to the door, wearing a backpack.

The video, which had no sound, shows him waiting a few moments, then running away toward the street. Out of the right hand side of the frame a man emerges, shirtless and in jeans. He is carrying a shotgun.

As the boy escapes at the top of the frame, the man raises the weapon. A few seconds pass, and he fires, the recoil knocking his torso backward.

He lowers the gun, steps out on to the porch, and looks in the direction the boy fled before turning back toward the house.

Zeigler told police the gun went off after he fell backward, causing his finger to inadvertently hit the trigger, according to court testimony from an officer.

In April, Brennan’s mother told WDIV that she believed there was a racial component to the case. Zeigler is white. Brennan is black.

“It definitely was a hate crime,” she said at the time.

Zeigler’s attorney, Robert Morad, told CNN after Friday’s verdict that the conviction of the lesser charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm “showed that the jury believed that my client wasn’t trying to kill Brennan Walker, which was obviously one of the things we argued.”

Sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 13, Morad said, adding it was too early to say whether they are considering an appeal.