Brennan Walker, a 14-year-old student in Rochester Hills, Michigan, realized a little too late he had overslept and missed the bus.
The high school freshman, who is black, decided he would try to walk to school through his neighborhood, a relatively wealthy (and 82 percent white) enclave about a 30-minute drive north from the heart of downtown Detroit, Patch reported.
He decided he would try to find a shortcut, but lost his way and had to knock on a neighbor’s door for directions because his mother had taken his phone as a punishment, ClickOnDetroit reported. The neighbors tried to help, but he got lost again and had to try another house, according to the site.
This time things took a dangerous turn.
“I knocked on her door a few times and she came down yelling at me before I could say anything and she thought I was trying to break into her house,” Walker told WXYZ. “I was trying to explain to her that I wanted to get directions to go to my school. I told her no, I go to Rochester High I’m just looking for directions to Rochester High.”
As he spoke, a man came downstairs and pointed a 12-gauge shotgun at Brennan, Patch reported. The teen turned and ran.
“I looked back behind me I saw him aiming at me and I turned back,” he told WXYZ. “I turned back and I heard the gunshot. And I tried to run faster.”
The woman who answered the door called 911 and reported that a black man had tried to break into their home, according to the Associated Press. Deputies arrived around 8:20 a.m. and found the boy down the street, AP reported.
Officers reviewed footage of the incident that was recorded on a home security camera and took a 53-year-old man into custody, according to WXYZ. The man has not been named.
Brennan’s mother told Fox 29 she believes the incident was racially motivated.
“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?’” she told the station. “Who are,‘these people?’”
Brennan told the station he’s just glad to be alive. “My mom says that black boys get shot because sometimes they don’t look their age, and I don’t look my age. I’m 14; but I don’t look 14. I’m kind of happy that, like, I didn’t become a statistic,” he told Fox 29.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard told Click On Detroit what happened was indefensible.
“That’s just completely unacceptable on every level. I don’t know how you would justify it, but it certainly doesn’t pass the muster,” he told the site. He told Fox 29 he would “ask for every charge permissible for this guy, who stepped up and fired a shotgun because someone knocked on his door.”
In a statement, Rochester Hills Mayor Bryan K. Barnett said he was “personally sickened” by the initial reports and said they “suggest behavior completely unacceptable and inconsistent with the character and values of our community. Our city has a strong and unwavering policy when it comes to acts of hatred.”