The 20-year-old man charged in the shooting of two police officers in Ferguson last week is telling authorities the cops were not his intended targets.
In fact, Jeffrey Williams has acknowledged he fired the shots, according to St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch, but has insisted that his aim was an individual at the protest who robbed him, CBS reports.
During a brief jail visit on Sunday, Williams told Bishop Derrick Robinson that he “fired into the air.”
“He said a particular protester tried to rob him and that was the reason he shot,” Robinson said.
Police are investigating Williams’ claim. Meanwhile, activists are challenging statements McCulloch made during a Sunday press conference that align Williams with protesters demonstrating against police brutality in recent months. McCulloch said the young man was at the protest before the shooting — a statement that supported the claim that Williams was “embedded” with the protesters.
Williams fired the 40 mm handgun from a vehicle near a hill overlooking the Ferguson police station.
“He is a demonstrator, he was out there earlier that evening, as part of the demonstration. He’s been out there on other occasions,” McCulloch said.
Activists who are familiar with the close-knit group of protesters calling for reform have been vocal in the past days about Williams’ involvement, if any. Millennial Activists United leader Brittany Ferrell told the Associated Press that no one in the group knew Williams. “This is a fear tactic. We are very tight-knit,” Ferrell said. “We know each other by face if not by name, and we’ve never seen this person before.”
Others took to Twitter to challenge McCulloch’s claim.
— Sass-N-Class (@christy_shantel) March 15, 2015
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
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
Williams, who was charged with three counts of armed criminal action, two counts of first-degree assault, and one count of firing a weapon from a vehicle, is being held on $300,000 cash bond.
Authorities say there may be other suspects involved in the shooting. An investigation continues.
SOURCE: CBS, Twitter | PHOTO CREDIT: Getty