We have an arrest in the attempted assassination of the two Ferguson law enforcement officers last week. Police have arrested Jeffrey Williams on a variety of charges, including a Class A firearms felony and firing a weapon from a vehicle. County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch, speaking in Clayton, Missouri, said the investigation is still ongoing, but a weapon has been recovered which has been connected to shells recovered at the scene of the crime. At this point, they are remaining intentionally vague and mentioning that he claimed he was firing at somebody else, but that sounds rather unlikely. Fox has the early details and video of the conference.
Authorities said Sunday they have made an arrest in the shooting of two officers outside the Ferguson Police Department.
St. Louis County Police Sgt. Brain Schellman said the details will be discussed Sunday at a 2:30 p.m. ET news conference. St. Louis County prosecuting attorney Robert McCulloch and St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar will attend.
The officers were shot after midnight Thursday as demonstrators gathered after the city’s police chief resigned in the wake of a scathing federal Justice Department report.
The weapon was reported by police as being a .40 caliber handgun. McCulloch said during the conference that Williams is African American and a “local” though whether or not he is a resident of Ferguson proper was not clear during the initial conference. Williams was also cited as being someone who was “part of the ongoing protests” and told them he was there “as a demonstrator.” He had been seen taking part multiple times in the past. (Which may deflate the “outside troublemaker” theme being pushed in the past few days of the investigation on many media outlets.) Williams also had an outstanding warrant for receiving stolen property and was wanted for not having checked in with probation for at least seven months.
According to McCulloch, Williams has admitted to firing the shots, even if he claims he wasn’t aiming at the cops.
Police are clearly not done with the investigation and it seems the need for more data was what drove the quick scheduling of the presser. McCulloch said they had received “numerous tips” which may lead to the distribution of reward money which has been offered. They had some video footage, but it wasn’t clear if that showed anything specific to the shooting. They are still looking for more witness testimony.
One claim being made – either by Williams or associates – was that he wasn’t even firing at the cops because he was engaged in an “ongoing dispute” with somebody else who was in the area. However, landing two errant shots from that distance on the police line strains credulity. When McCulloch described the charges which were pending, he said that it wouldn’t matter who Williams was shooting at if he is proven to be the shooter, as the class A felony being charged would still apply to wounding police officers in the line of duty and could carry life without parole as a penalty.
At the end of the conference, Jon Belmar, the St. Louis County Chief of Police, updated the public on the status of two injured police officers. He said that it was largely unchanged from yesterday and everyone was still hoping for a full recovery.
UPDATE: (Jazz) Unconfirmed report from one local news source that this is a previous mugshot of Williams.
A bit more detail:
UPDATE: (Jazz) Bishop Derrick Robinson tells us that Williams “had been robbed” and was shooting at the people who robbed him. So… okay. Also that he wasn’t a protester, regardless of what he told the police.