A retired Detroit firefighter who fired at an alleged burglar wound up in jail on charges of assault with intent to murder after local deputies discovered the truth about what had really happened.
The altercation began 8:20 am Thursday morning, when homeowner Jeffery Zeigler’s wife called 911 to report that he had just chased a burglar away from their home, according to local station WJBK.
Except the burglar had in fact been a 14-year-old teen who had simply missed his bus and gotten lost while trying to walk to school. All Brennan Walker had sought was help. Instead he received a close call with death.
“I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door,” Walker said to WJBK, describing the moment he approached Zeigler’s home for help. “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. 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.”
Zeigler missed, thank God, but then continued to try and chase after Walker. When the authorities arrived, they found the teen down the street, thankful to be alive.
Though Zeigler and his wife insisted that they had been the victims of a burglary attempt, their own home told a different story. Inside their doorbell is a video camera, and the footage contained within it was proof positive that this had been no burglary.
“We do have the benefit of home security video. The victim in this matter, a 14-year-old child, indicated what had happened to the police and his version did bear out on that video,” assistant prosecutor Kelly Collins reportedly said during Zeigler’s arraignment hearing Friday. It remains unclear how much time the retired fighter potentially faces.
What is absolutely clear to Walker’s mother is that the incident happened because of Zeigler’s wife.
“One of the things that stands out, that probably angers me the most is, while I was watching the tape, you can hear the wife say, ‘Why did “these people” choose my house?'” she said. “Who are, ‘these people?’ 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 [what it looks like].”
She believes Zeigler’s wife was motivated by racism, and she may be right. It’s just unfortunate that her husband has to pay for his wife’s ignorance.
“We should not have to live in a society where we have to fend for ourselves. If I have a question, I should be able to turn to my village and knock on a door and ask a question. I shouldn’t be fearful of a child, let alone a skin tone,” Walker’s mother added. “This is a decent neighborhood. If anything — why would I knock on your door to rob you?”
I’m just thankful her son made it out OK. Had things things turned out slightly different, he could very well be dead right now.
According to Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard, his department intends to ask for every charge possible.
“It is just absurd that this happened,” he said.
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