On Thursday, 14-year-old Brennan Walker slept too late and missed the bus. After he got lost, he decided to ask for directions. That nearly cost him his life.
Since his mother was at work, Walker did the best he could to get to Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, Michigan, on his own, walking the route his bus took. However, things took an almost fatal turn when he decided to knock on the door of a neighbor’s home to ask for directions.
“I got to the house, and I knocked on the lady’s door. 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,” Walker told Fox 2 Detroit. “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.”
The man, whom Fox 2 Detroit identified as retired firefighter Jeffrey Ziegler, thankfully missed, and police responding to the scene took Ziegler into custody, charging him with assault with intent to commit murder, as well as a charge of possessing a firearm in the commission of a felony. His bond was set at $50,000 with conditions. Michigan state law stipulates that a conviction of assault with intent to murder carries a penalty of up to life imprisonment, or any number of years. The felony firearms charge is punishable by up to two years, consecutively.
“I feel terrible for the young man; I feel terrible for the mom and the anxiety that they had to go through,” Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told local media. “We are going to ask for every charge permissible for this guy, who stepped up and fired a shotgun because someone knocked on his door.”
Ziegler’s Ring video doorbell recorded the incident, which will likely be used as evidence in his trial. While the 14-year-old and his mother, Lisa Wright, watched the video, police have not released it to the public as of this writing.
“My mom says that, black boys get shot because sometimes they don’t look their age, and I don’t look my age. I’m 14; but I don’t look 14. I’m kind of happy that, like, I didn’t become a statistic,” Walker said.
Ziegler is currently being held at the Oakland County Jail.
Scott Alden is a freelance contributor covering national politics, education, and environmental issues. He is a proud Toledo University graduate, and lives in the suburbs of Detroit.