Suspect Charged in Shooting of Police Officers in Ferguson, Missouri
TEHRAN (Tasnim) - A 20-year-old man was charged with first-degree assault in last week's shooting of two policemen during a protest rally in Ferguson, Missouri, a crime that shocked a city that has been devastated by months of racial strife.
The suspect, Jeffrey L. Williams, has admitted to firing the shots that wounded the officers early on Thursday, said St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch.
The gunfire rang out just after midnight at the end of a rally to call for sweeping reforms in Ferguson, where an unarmed black 18-year-old was shot to death by a white officer last summer.
Michael Brown's death touched off months of protests against law enforcement's treatment of minority groups, in Ferguson and around the country, and led to a US Justice Department probe that found pervasive racial bias on the part of the city's mostly white police force.
Williams was arrested after a massive manhunt, with the help of tips from the public and video evidence, McCulloch told a news conference, Reuters reported.
An African American who had been on probation for possession of stolen property, Williams told investigators that he was not targeting police but was shooting at someone else, McCulloch said.
A 41-year-old county police officer suffered a shoulder wound and a 32-year-old from a nearby police department sustained a facial wound in Thursday's shooting. Both were treated and released by a local hospital.
Williams, whose bond was set at $300,000, appears to have fired a .40-caliber handgun from a car, McCulloch said.
A lawyer for Williams could not immediately be reached.
A handgun was recovered in his residence and matched shell casings found at the scene, according to McCulloch, who said that although Williams appeared to be the only shooter, other people may be charged as the investigation continues.
"This arrest sends a clear message that acts of violence against our law enforcement personnel will never be tolerated," US Attorney General Eric Holder said in a statement.
The shootings took place just hours after Ferguson's police chief resigned in the wake of the scathing US Justice Department report. Chief Tom Jackson's resignation followed the departures of the city manager and a municipal judge.