Jeffrey Williams was arrested on Sunday and charged with shooting two Ferguson police officers during a protest this week — but the 20-year-old repeat offender claims he was actually aiming at someone else.
On Thursday, two Ferguson police officers were shot when someone opened fire during a protest outside police headquarters. Demonstrators were angry over a recent federal investigation that pointed to racial bias from the department, leading many to believe that the shootings were frustrations boiling over.
But as police arrested Williams on Sunday, the demonstrator offered another excuse. He claimed that he was actually taking aim at someone else from inside a car, striking the police officers instead by accident.
Local authorities seemed wary of his claim.
“It’s possible at this point that he was firing shots at someone other than the police, but struck the police officers,” Robert P. McCulloch, the prosecuting attorney for St. Louis County, said on Sunday. “He has stated that he may have had a dispute with some other individuals. I’m not sure we completely buy that part of it. But in any event, it’s possible he was firing at some other people.”
McCullough said police investigators are still looking into the circumstances.
“We’re not 100 percent sure that there was a dispute. That’s part of the claim right now. It’s possible that there was a dispute. It’s possible that he was targeting police officers. We just have to wait for the investigation to develop.”
Police initially did not have a suspect, but said a tip led them to Williams. They then recovered a.40-caliber handgun from him, one they believe was used to shoot the two Ferguson police officers.
Police claim that Jeffrey Williams was part of the protest outside police headquarters, but leaders of the demonstrations say they do not know him. Brittany Ferrell, who is part of the group Millennial Activists United, said no one in her group knew or was associated with Williams, and after asking around, she found that no other demonstrators knew him, either.
Ferrell said the police and prosecutors may be trying to connect Williams to the protesters as a way to tarnish the movement.
“This is a fear tactic,” she said. “We are very tight-knit. We know each other by face if not by name, and we’ve never seen this person before.”
With Jeffrey Williams already behind bars for allegedly shooting two Ferguson police officers, investigators said there could be more arrests to come. Williams is being held on $300,000 bond.
[Image via ABC News]