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Seven months after shooting at a teenager seeking directions to school, a former Detroit firefighter was sentenced to a minimum of four years in prison on Tuesday. Jeffrey Zeigler, of Rochester Hills, Michigan, was convicted in October for his gun-wielding attack on Brennan Walker, then 14, who knocked on his door after getting lost in Zeigler’s neighborhood on April 12.

Zeigler was found guilty of assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony, and was ultimately undone by his own surveillance cameras (and his own lies).

While nobody was physically harmed by his actions, Zeigler is going away for a while.

“He almost took the life of another human being,” assistant prosecutor Kelly Collins said. “That will forever stay with Brennan — forever. His perception of strangers, his perception of other people, his perception of the world.”

Oakland County Judge Wendy Potts sentenced Zeigler, a retired Detroit firefighter, to four to 10 years in prison, which means he’ll serve four years before he’s eligible to be released on parole.

“I wish I could change something,” Zeigler, 53, told the judge.

He likely just wishes that he could change the fact that he got caught. Zeigler’s own lawyer mused to the media about the travesty of the gun-toting retiree being taken down by his own video cameras, rather than focusing on the fact that the shirtless man shot at a teenager seeking help.

Outside of court Tuesday, defense attorney Rob Morad said it was ironic that Zeigler had installed video surveillance for protection and that it ended up being “the worst piece of evidence” against him.

Morad also said he was “disappointed but not surprised” at the sentence, acknowledging that Zeigler’s 2004 conviction for firing a gun during a road rage incident was a factor in Potts’ decision.

While the racial undertones of the crime were obvious, they weren’t a focus of the prosecution’s case. Brennan’s family, however, insists that race was a factor in Zeigler’s violent response to the teenager on his doorstep.

Brennan’s mother, Lisa Wright, made a statement to the court prior to the sentencing, describing Zeigler as someone who “hunts people, not deer” — and said he fired at her son because he is black.

“It’s not fair…I tried to keep race out of it, but if there was a button to press to be a certain color, I’d have to be your color so I could survive,” Wright said.

Wright adds that Brennan, now 15, has “good days and bad days” since the shooting, a stark reminder that bullets don’t have to hit us to hurt us.

Read in-depth coverage of the Zeigler case here.

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This is a Creative Commons article. The original version of this article appeared here.


  1. This idiot needed this death sentence! My guess is he won’t make out of oakland county jail. Would that kid be dead if he didn’t run like hell?


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