A retired firefighter who fired a gun at a black teenager asking for directions in suburban Detroit was sentenced Tuesday to four to 10 years in prison, according to court records.
Jeffrey Craig Zeigler, 53, apologized in court and had “full remorse and regret” over shooting at 14-year-old Brennan Walker, according to CNN affiliate WDIV.
“I wish I could change something. I can’t go back in time,” Zeigler said, the station reported.
Zeigler was sentenced to two to 10 years for assault with intent to do great bodily harm and two years for possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
An Oakland County jury convicted Zeigler last month.
On April 12, Brennan was walking alone to school after missing the bus. The teenager said he trekked the four miles to Rochester High School in Rochester Hills, about 20 miles north of Detroit, but got lost and knocked on several doors, including Zeigler’s home.
A home security video of the shooting showed Zeigler firing at Brennan who ran away from the Michigan man’s door. Brennan was not wounded.
Zeigler had intended to scare the teenager away, but the gun went off, his attorney Robert Morad told CNN in an interview. During the trial, Zeigler said he tripped and the shotgun accidentally went off, according to WDIV.
“It’s been a terrible case for all the people involved, and my client wishes he could go back in time and change what happened. But he can’t,” Morad said. “He is obviously very sorry for what happened.”
Zeigler was a Detroit firefighter for 24 years, according to Morad. He left the fire department in 2013, after rising to the rank of lieutenant, because of disabilities due to injuries suffered on the job.
Brennan’s mother has said she believes there was a racial component to the case, according to WDIV. Zeigler is white.
“I tried to keep race out of it but we all know that’s … what it was,” Lisa Wright said Tuesday, according to WDIV.
She added: “If there was a button that I could press for me to pick what color I could be — just so I wouldn’t have to deal with this type of stuff — I would have to be your color … so I could survive,” she told reporters.