Jeffery Craig Zeigler, a 53-year-old retired firefighter, was charged with assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony on Friday. Zeigler was charged after authorities say he shot at a 14-year-old, Brennan Walker, who was trying to get directions to get to school after missing his bus.
As reported earlier by The Root, Brennan said he stopped at Zeigler’s house because he saw a neighborhood-watch sticker on the home, and thought it would be a safe space.
After Brennan knocked on the door, a white woman came to the door yelling, “Why are you trying to break into my house?”
“I was trying to explain [...] that I wanted to get directions to go to my school,” said Brennan, according to CNN. Authorities say that Zeigler then came downstairs, grabbed a gun and fired one shot at the teen, who had the good sense to run.
Brennan and Zeigler were both taken to a police station and questioned. Someone from Zeigler’s home had called police and reported a “male trying to break into the house.”
As it happened, there was surveillance video from the home, and it contradicted Zeigler’s version of events.
CNN reports that during Zeigler’s arraignment, Judge Julie Nicholson entered a plea of not guilty for him.
But Brennan’s mother says she thinks Zeigler is guilty as hell—of racism.
“It definitely was a hate crime,” she said, according to CNN.
Zeigler was released Friday from Michigan’s Oakland County Jail on $50,000 bond. A judge ordered the man to stay more than 10 miles from the teenager, which means that he will likely have to live elsewhere until trial. He will also have to wear a monitor and turn over all his firearms and his passport.
Of course, Zeigler is sticking to his flimsy story. He told the judge that there is “a lot more to the story than what’s being told,” and begged to be able to remain in his home.
“I would really like to stay at home, to keep my family together. I’m asking, I’m begging, please,” Zeigler said on courtroom video, according to ABC 13.
However, the district attorney says she thinks the likelihood of Brennan running into Zeigler would be too great.
“I don’t want this teen to be in a position of running into the man who tried to kill him,” Assistant Prosecutor Kim Collins said.
Zeigler is due back in court April 24 and, if convicted, faces a maximum sentence of life in prison.