After oversleeping and missing his bus to school, a Michigan teen was almost killed by a trigger-happy homeowner while trying to ask for directions.
Brennan Walker was attempting to walk along the bus route and make it to Rochester High School after missing his ride, but couldn’t find his way. Because his mom had taken his phone, the 14-year-old decided to ask for help and knocked on a stranger's door to see if they could tell him how to get to the school. That decision almost had tragic results.
“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. And she kept yelling at me,” Brennan told a reporter from Detroit’s Fox 2 news.
“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,“ Brennan recalled.
Police were dispatched to the scene and took the man, Jeffrey Zeigler, into custody, but that doesn’t mean the incident was any less frightening for the teen, who hid and cried before help arrived.
“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,” Brennan said. “I'm kind of happy that I didn't become a statistic.”
Police say Zeigler’s doorbell had a surveillance camera attached and the whole incident was caught on video. While Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright, is thankful her son is alive, she’s angry his life was nearly cut short because of someone else’s prejudiced views of young Black boys.
“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? ‘Who are, ‘these people?’” Wright asked rhetorically. She said that when she received a call from police she assumed it was about her husband, who’s currently deployed in Syria, but was shaken up when she learned what happened to her son.
“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 said.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said the incident should never have happened in the first place.
“It is just absurd that this happened,” he said. “I feel terrible for the young man; I feel terrible for the mom and the anxiety that they had to go through. 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.”
Zeigler, a retired Detroit firefighter, has been charged with assault with intent to murder and and felony firearms. He was arraigned on Friday and given a $50,000 bond.