Fifty-three-year-old Jeffrey Zeigler was found guilty by a jury Friday of assault with attempt to do great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony. The charges were a result of an incident between the white retired firefighter and 14-year-old black teen Brennan Walker on April 12. Walker missed his school bus that morning and knocked on Zeigler’s door to ask him for directions to his school. He was greeted with a shotgun and ran from the house as Zeigler shot at him. The boy suffered no bodily harm. Zeigler was originally charged with assault with the intent to murder, but the jury determined that the homeowner did not intend to kill Walker. NBC News reports that the guilty verdict on the charge of possessing a firearm in the commission of a felony carries a mandatory sentence of two years behind bars. That time must be served before any time served for the guilty verdict on the assault charges that can carry a sentence of anywhere from a few months to 10 years.
Brennan Walker spoke to the press in April and described what happened on the morning in question.
“I knocked on the door, stepped back, knocked, stepped back, and then a lady came downstairs yelling at me. 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.”
Mrs. Zeigler proceeded to call the police and report a black male trying to break into her house. She told them that her husband had chased him into the yard.
Brennan Walker said he was looking for help after missing a bus to school. Jeffrey Zeigler fired a shotgun blast at him. https://t.co/ZnIBNlIpmV— HuffPost BlackVoices (@blackvoices) October 11, 2018
Jeffrey Zeigler has previously faced gun-related charges. In 2006, he was found guilty of pointing a firearm at someone “without malice.” He was sentenced to a year of probation. He was found not guilty of a second charge related to the incident, felonious assault with a dangerous firearm.
During his court appearance earlier this year, Zeigler told the court that there was more to the story “than what is being told.” He said that he really thought Walker was robbing him but claimed that the gun had accidentally gone off when he tripped. Video from a security camera at Zeigler’s home showed otherwise, indicating that he intentionally aimed the gun at Walker.
The judge revoked Zeigler’s bond Friday. He is currently being held in custody and will appear in court for sentencing on November 13.
Asked whether she will be suing Zeigler, Brennan Walker’s mother Lisa Wright said that she hasn’t ruled it out but that she just wants Zeigler to spend some time and jail and for her and her son to heal right now.
Zeigler’s attorney indicated that he will review the case further and decide at a future date whether or not he will appeal Friday’s decision.