Man charged with firing at teen waives hearing

Mike Martindale
The Detroit News
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Rochester Hills – An ex-Detroit firefighter charged with shooting at a teenager on his doorstep waived his right to a preliminary exam Tuesday, but his attorney faced questions from a judge about alleged bond violations.

Jeffrey Zeigler, 50, is charged with assault with intent to murder and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony in the April 12 incident. The retired Detroit Fire Department lieutenant was released the day after the non-injury shooting after posting a $50,000 cash surety bond.

Among conditions of bond were that Zeigler be periodically tested for controlled substances by pretrial services. Judge Julie Nicholson of 52-3rd District Court said Tuesday she has received reports of several missed testing dates and one in which Zeigler provided a urine sample that tested positive for opioids.

“The reports are wrong,” Zeigler’s attorney, Rob Morad, told Nicholson. “We have records which show he appeared as instructed. As for the drugs, that is something medically prescribed for him by his doctor.”

Morad did not elaborate on Zeigler’s medical needs but said his client would like to be tested for substances by mouth swabbing, an accepted practice.  Nicholson said that is something that would have to be approved and arranged with pretrial services.

Nicholson told Zeigler for now he has 72 hours to produce paperwork documenting the “necessity” of all of his prescriptions and to appear for all tests – either by urine or blood – on all dates as instructed. 

Zeigler, on Morad’s advice, declined reporters’ questions outside the courtroom.

“He is doing OK but this has been difficult,” said Morad. “He had to move out of his home several weeks ago because it is too close to where the teenager lives and he would be in violation of his bond.”

Zeigler told police he was asleep in his home in the 22000 block of South Christian Hills Drive at 8:30 a.m. April 12 when his wife woke him up screaming someone was trying to break into the house.

The subject – a 14-year-old Rochester High student – had missed his school bus and was attempting to walk to school when he because lost in the unfamiliar subdivision and stopped at the Zeigler house to ask directions.

Zeigler grabbed his shotgun and ran out the door after the fleeing teen. Zeigler claimed the shotgun accidentally misfired when he stumbled and fell. But a home security camera video shows him fumbling with a safety mechanism on the weapon, then firing at the fleeing teenager.

It was not Zeigler’s first mishap with a firearm, according to police and court records reviewed by The News. In December 2004, Zeigler was involved in a road rage incident in Warren. He was arrested after another motorist reported Zeigler fired a handgun at him after the two men “flipped off” each other from their vehicles on westbound Interstate 696.

Zeigler was initially charged with assault with a deadly weapon – a felony offense later dismissed in place of a plea for firing and aiming a weapon without malice or injury, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and fines. Zeigler was not jailed but sentenced to one year reporting probation and $609 in fines.

If convicted of the current charges, Zeigler could face any term of years up to life in prison.
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