Police arrest Missouri man, 20, in shooting of two officers in Ferguson – Fox News
A 20-year-old Missouri man has been arrested in the shooting of two St. Louis County police officers Thursday, county officials announced Sunday.
Jeffrey Williams was arrested Saturday night and is charged with two counts of assault in the first degree, three counts of armed criminal action and firing a weapon from a vehicle, St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch said during the afternoon press conference.
Williams, who McCulloch said has attended several demonstrations in Ferguson, Mo., has told police that he fired shots at someone he had a dispute with, and hit the officers, who Williams alleges were not his intended target.
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.
A 41-year-old county officer was shot in the right shoulder, and a 32-year-old suburban officer was shot in the right cheek.
Protests have happened in Ferguson since the Aug. 9 shooting of an unarmed black man by a white police officer. The officers were shot Thursday as protests were winding down following the resignation of Ferguson Police Chief Tom Jackson. Jackson was the sixth city official to leave office following a Justice Department review of the city’s law enforcement practices. The review was precipitated by the fatal shooting last August of Michael Brown, an 18-year-old black man, by a white police officer, Darren Wilson.
Both wounded officers were released from the hospital Thursday, and Belmar — who called the attack an ambush — said they could have been killed. One was shot in the right shoulder, the bullet exiting through his back. The other in the right cheek, just below the eye. The bullet lodged behind his ear.
The shots were believed to come from a handgun across the street from the police department.
The gunman may have fired from up to 120 yards away, a distance longer than a football field. But with a line of roughly 20 officers standing in front of the building, the shooter did not have to be particularly accurate to hit two of them, Belmar said.
Belmar had said Friday detectives were working around the clock to crack that case. The department’s top priority, he said, was to continue “a tempo of service and protection and relationships” that ensure Ferguson does not “have a regression from all that we’ve done since last fall.”
The gunfire drew instant, broad condemnation from activists. Dozens of protesters gathered again Thursday night in Ferguson, expressing sympathy for the wounded officers and praying for peace during a candlelight vigil.
“We cannot afford these kinds of incidents happening. That gets us absolutely nowhere,” said St. Louis activist John Gaskin III. He called the gunfire “disgraceful and cowardly” and said people “need to be working for reforms and justice, not revenge.”
Robinson said the wounding of the officers “definitely set us back.” But he believes protesters can regain what they lost.
“Even last night as we protested, police were very gracious to us,” he said Friday. “That shows a lot of trust to us.”
Gaskin said protesters should take stock in the Ferguson house cleaning they helped achieve.
“Although the work is not nearly done,” he said, “this is a time for practitioners of democracy to pat themselves on the back for significant change.”
“We wish these injured officers a full and speedy recovery,” Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement Thursday. “We stand ready to offer any possible aid to an investigation into this incident, including the department’s full range of investigative resources.”
Holder later called the shooter a “damn punk.”
President Obama condemned the shooting of the officers, saying that though the city’s law enforcement practices were “oppressive and objectionable,” there was “no excuse” for violence.
“Whoever fired those shots should not detract from the issue — they are criminals, they need to be arrested,” Obama said. “And then what we need to do is make sure that like-minded, good-spirited people on both sides — law enforcement, who have a terrifically tough job, and people who understandably don’t want to be stopped and harassed just because of their race — that they are able to work together to come up with some good answers.”
Obama made the remarks during a taped appearance on ABC’s “Jimmy Kimmel Live” Thursday.
Brown’s family issued a statement Thursday condemning the shooting.
“We reject any kind of violence directed toward members of law enforcement,” the statement read. “It cannot and will not be tolerated.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.