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‘That Set Me Off’: Mother of Black Teen Shot at for Knocking on a White Man’s Door for Directions Furious After Learning the Shooter Gets Parole

A white Michigan man who shot at a 14-year-old Black teen who was lost and asked for directions could be a free man in a matter of weeks.

The teen’s mother is furious the man who fired at her son has been granted parole.

“That was like a jab with a knife in my heart,” Lisa Wright told WJBK.

Brennan Walker was not injured on the morning of April 12, 2018, but the day still sticks with him psychologically.

“It still affects him very much. He can’t really talk about it without the emotions spewing from him,” Wright explained.

The Associated Press reports that on the day of the shooting, the then-14-year-old Walker woke up late for school and missed the school bus. He then started walking to school but got lost in the subdivision as he attempted to trace the route the school bus would take on the way to his high school.

WDIV reported Walker did not have his cellphone at the time because he was on punishment.

Realizing he was lost, he knocked on the doors of nearby homes. The first homeowner gave him some directions, but he got lost again. Once he reached Jeffery Zeigler’s home to ask for directions, things turned more serious. As he knocked, a woman started speaking to him through the door.

“Why are you trying to break into my house,” Walker recalled the woman said to him.

The incident was captured on surveillance video mounted at Zeigler’s front door. The teen said he was trying to explain to the woman he was seeking directions, but the woman kept yelling. It was during this time Zeigler came downstairs with a gun.

“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,” Walker said.

Walker immediately ran away from Zeigler’s home.

Zeigler was later charged with assault with the intent to murder, and he received a felony firearm charge.  

Jeffrey Zeigler-Brennan Walker
Brennan Walker narrowly escaped injury after Jeffrey Zeigler fired a shotgun at his back in 2018. The then-14-year-old rang Zeigler’s doorbell to ask for directions after he missed a school bus. (Photo: Screenshot/Fox 2 Detroit)

The Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said to WJBK at the time, “I feel terrible for the young man…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.”

Wright suspected her son’s race influenced Ziegler and his wife’s reaction.

“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’…that set me off,” Wright said.

On Oct. 12, 2018, Zeigler was convicted by a jury and found guilty of assault with attempt to do great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.

At his sentencing in November 2018, Zeigler apologized after being sentenced to two consecutive two to 10-year prison terms for the assault. 

“Let me see him go to jail. Let my son and myself heal,” Wright said to NBC News

In the years that followed, Wright graduated high school and started college at Florida Memorial University in Miami to study biology.

Then in early February, Wright received a letter from the Michigan Department of Corrections parole board explaining to her Zeigler has been granted parole.

“After careful consideration, the parole board has voted to grant parole to this prisoner. Release is tentatively scheduled to occur on or about 4/11/2023,” the letter said.

“I was like, are you serious?” Wright said.

Jeffrey Ziegler
Jeffrey Ziegler will serve consecutive sentences, spending at least four years behind bars. (Photo: Screenshot of WXYZ)

Wright’s anger is fueled because she claims Zeigler never admitted wrongdoing.

“He never admitted to what he did in trial court, appeal court, in no letter. He’s not shown remorse. He’s still going with the story he slipped and fell,” Wright said.

Zeigler’s attorney praised the parole board’s decision.

“I think the parole board has made the correct decision,” Paul Stablein told WJBK.

Wright said her son is still impacted by what happened nearly five years ago.

“It doesn’t mentally impact me as much as it used to, but I think about the events every day,” Walker previously told WJBK.

Wright has until early March to file an appeal with the circuit court of Oakland County to attempt to overturn the parole board’s decision if she wants Zeigler to remain in prison.  

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