St. Louis, Mo. – On Sunday, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCulloch announced that 20-year-old Jeffrey Williams was arrested around 10:30 p.m. Saturday night and charged in the shooting that wounded two police officers just after midnight Thursday.
At a press conference on Sunday afternoon, McCulloch said that Williams has been charged with two counts of first degree assault and one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle. If convicted, he could face up to life in prison.
“He has acknowledged firing the shots,” McCulloch said, regarding the suspect, who is African American and lives north of Ferguson. “He was on probation here in St. Louis County for accepting stolen property.”
McCulloch said that Williams was a regular protestor, and that his intention in the shooting is pending investigation, due to the fact that he may have been targeting someone other than police. McCulloch added that the weapon police recovered from Williams matched the casings found at the scene.
The shooting occurred just after midnight on Thursday, as a demonstration was winding down outside of the Ferguson Police Department. Protestors had gathered on Wednesday night following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson, who resigned in the wake of a scathing report that revealed the police department in Ferguson exercised discrimination against the black community.
At a press conference on Thursday, St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar said that two officers were wounded in the shooting: a 41-year-old officer from St. Louis County was shot in the shoulder and a 32-year-old officer from the suburb of Webster Groves was shot in the face. Both officers were released from the hospital on Thursday.
March 15, 2015, 4:10 p.m. Eastern: UPDATE: Following the press conference with St. Louis County officials on Sunday, Mediaite reported that both reporters and protesters spoke out on Twitter, and contested the claim that Jeffrey Williams was a “regular” at at any of the Ferguson protests.
— Sass-N-Class (@christy_shantel) March 15, 2015
DeRay McKesson, an activist and a regular protestor as the Ferguson demonstrations, said that he hadn’t seen Williams at the protest on the night of the shooting, or at any protests prior to that night:
No, I cannot recall ever seeing the suspected shooter, Jeffrey Williams, at any protests, including the night in question.
— deray mckesson (@deray) March 15, 2015
Matt Pearce, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, questioned whether Williams had ever attended a Ferguson protest:
Judging from what I and other reporters remember, and some prominent activists, this guy was no mainstay, if he had ever protested at all. — Matt Pearce (@mattdpearce) March 15, 2015
Wesley Lowery, a reporter for the Washington Post, said that none of the regular protestors he knew were familiar with Jeffrey Williams:
Asked 4 protest regulars if they’ve ever seen/met Jeffrey Williams. Their text responses: “No” “Hell no” “Nope. No” “Never” — Wesley Lowery (@WesleyLowery) March 15, 2015