- Michigan couple Jillian and Eric Wuestenberg have been charged with felony assault after Jillian was caught on video pointing a gun at a Black family recently.
- The couple sat down for their first television interview about the confrontation with local outlet 7 Action News on July 9.
- Jillian said she pulled her gun on the family because she feared for her life, while one of her lawyers said the Wuestenbergs were the victims of “ethnic intimidation.”
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A white Michigan woman has defended pointing a gun at a Black family, after video of the heated exchange went viral and led to her arrest.
Jillian Wuestenberg sat down for an interview with local news station 7 Action News on Thursday, saying she only pulled out her concealed weapon because she feared for her life.
“We had no want to escalate anything,” Wuestenberg said. “We wanted to go home, we wanted to leave in our car, we wanted the other family to be able to leave in their car. There was no desire for escalation on our part, there was a desire to live.”
According to previous reports, Wuestenberg got into a confrontation with Black mom Takelia Hill when the former bumped into Hill’s 15-year-old daughter while leaving a Chipotle in Orion Township.
The two families proceeded to get into a verbal confrontation over whether Wuestenberg should apologize. As Wuestenberg and her husband, Eric, were trying to leave the parking lot, they say that Hill hit the back of their car, something Hill says she only did to stop them from running over her daughter.
At that point, Jillian Wuestenberg got out of the car, pointing a gun at the family, and loading a bullet into the chamber.
The Wuestenbergs eventually got back into their car and drove off, but were later arrested and charged with felony assault.
Jillian Wuestenberg admits that her bag may have hit Hill’s daughter, but she didn’t mean to do so intentionally and tried to make that clear to the family.
She said she tried to defend herself with the family called her “ignorant” and a “racist,” saying she doesn’t see herself as either.
“I have a genuine love for every single person I meet,” Wuestenberg said. “Everyone has a story, everyone is important, and that really crushed me at the core of who I am, because I genuinely adore every person I meet.”
Wuestenberg said that the Hill family escalated the confrontation by closing in on her from all sides, causing her to reach for her concealed weapon — something she says she has never done in her year of having a concealed carry license.
“There were multiple people very rapidly and aggressively approaching me…
“The mother very quickly was on me, the daughter was running from my left up to me, and within moments — a second or two — I had multiple people within two feet of me and I just remember thinking, ‘I’m not going home tonight,'” Wuestenberg recalled.
She became tearful explaining that she believed she had no choice but to pull out her handgun, so she could get back home to her four kids.
She said the thoughts going through her mind were, “I need to live. I need to survive.”
One of Wuestenberg’s attorneys, Dean Greenblatt, also spoke during the interview and said that the couple were victims of “ethnic intimidation.”
“Anybody who watches this video can see plainly that ethnic intimidation is ongoing here,” Greenblatt said.
In addition to felony assault charges and facing four years in jail if convicted, Jillian and Eric have been fired from their jobs in the wake of the incident.
In response to the interview, an attorney for the Hill family said that you couldn’t legally pull a gun on someone unless you can prove there was a real threat, which he doesn’t think was warranted by Hill and her daughters’ actions.
“She was able to get into the vehicle,” attorney Christopher Quinn said of Jillian Wuestenberg. “They were able to drive off. They didn’t choose to drive off. They actually almost hit my client with their van. And then jumped out like Bonnie and Clyde with guns pointed at them. They were going to make sure it was understood they were the ones in charge.”
“I don’t believe that the threat, the perceived threat, was realistic because one group of people were armed and the other was not,” he added.