Rochester Hills man who fired at teen asking for directions found guilty by jury

Jeffrey Zeigler found guilty on two counts

Surveillance video from a home in Rochester Hills shows a homeowner firing a gun toward a teen who had knocked on his door to asked for directions. (WDIV)

ROCHESTER HILLS, Mich. – A Rochester Hills man seen on video firing a gun at a teenager who was lost and looking for directions was found guilty by a jury Friday on two counts.

Jeffrey Zeigler was charged with assault with intent to murder and felony firearms violations. The jury found him guilty of the lesser charge of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in commission of a felony.

The 14-year-old boy said he got lost while walking to school April 12 and was looking for directions. He knocked on the door to a home in the 2200 block of South Christian Hills Drive. The homeowner told police he came out with a shotgun because he believed his home was being broken into.

Deputies responded to the home about 8:20 a.m. that morning after the man's wife said someone was trying to break into her home. 

"The caller reported that a black male was trying to break into her house and her husband chased after him into the yard. Upon deputies' arrival, it was determined that the husband chased after the male with a 12 gauge shotgun and fired a round toward the fleeing male. No injuries were reported," reads a statement from the Sheriff's Office. 

Jeffrey Zeigler (WDIV)

Video of shooting shown in court

Authorities said home security video showed the man shooting at the unarmed teen, who was running away from the home. That video was played in court this week where the homeowner, 53-year-old Jeffrey Zeigler, is charged with assault with intent to murder and felony firearms violations.

The video shows the teen running for his life as Zeigler aims and fires a shotgun at him.

"She (Zeigler's wife) thought I was trying to break in. She asked 'Why are you trying to break into my house?'" Brennan Walker, the teen Zeigler shot at, said.

Watch the video here: 

Prosecutors said when the wife yelled, her husband came running with the gun.

"There's a lot more to the story than what's being told," Zeigler said.

The teen's mother said she believes Zeigler reacted with such violence because he saw a black teenager at his front door.

Zeigler is on bond and has been since the April incident. Closing arguments will begin Friday morning.He is facing charges of assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. If convicted, he could spend life in prison.

Teen says he got lost on walk to school, describes encounter

The 14-year-old boy, Brennan Walker, said he woke up late that Thursday morning and missed the school bus. He decided to walk to Rochester High School instead. However, he started to lose his way and needed help. 

Brennan Walker, 14, of Rochester Hills

Brennan knocked on the door to the house on South Christian Hills Drive to ask for directions. 

"I knocked on the door, stepped back, knocked, stepped back, and then a lady came downstairs yelling at me," he said. "She asked me, 'Why are you trying to break into my house?' and I told her I was just looking for directions to Rochester High," he said. 

Then a man came downstairs armed with a gun and Brennan started running. 

"I turned back and I saw him aiming at me," said Brennan. 

Police said the man had the safety on the gun at first, but then he took aim a second time. 

"I was running away ... I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot," said Brennan. 

Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard believes there is no way to justify what happened. 

"That's just completely unacceptable on every level. I don't know how you would justify it, but it certainly doesn't pass the muster," said Bouchard. 

Brennan's mother, Lisa Wright, wants the man to face serious charges. 

"I want to see this pushed to the fullest extent. It definitely was a hate crime," she said. 

About the Authors:

Nick joined the Local 4 team in February of 2015. Prior to that he spent 6 years in Sacramento covering a long list of big stories including wildfires and earthquakes. Raised in Sterling Heights, he is no stranger to the deep history and pride Detroit has to offer.

Derick is the Lead Digital Editor for ClickOnDetroit and has been with Local 4 News since April 2013. Derick specializes in breaking news, crime and local sports.