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Suspect in Ferguson Police Attack Appears in Court

Monday, 16 Mar 2015 07:28 PM

The man accused of shooting two police officers last week in Ferguson appeared in court Monday, a day after his arrest on charges that he fired on the men during a late-night protest.

Jeffrey Williams, 20, did not make any statements during the brief hearing. St. Louis television station KTVI said a judge read the charges — felony assault, armed criminal action and a weapons offense — and gave Williams a list of possible private attorneys. His next appearance was set for March 31.

Williams is accused of shooting the two officers Thursday outside Ferguson's police station, which has been the scene of protests since last summer's fatal shooting of 18-year-old Michael Brown.

Williams told investigators he was not targeting law enforcement and had been aiming instead at someone with whom he was in dispute, authorities said.

"We're not sure we completely buy that part of it," St. Louis County Prosecutor Robert McCulloch said.

Williams used a handgun that matches the shell casings at the scene, McCulloch said. He was being held on $300,000 bond.

Ferguson activist Derrick Robinson said Sunday that Williams told him during a jail visit that he had been robbed earlier on the day of the shooting and returned to the protest zone to retaliate. On Monday, Robinson referred inquiries to Williams' lawyer, who did not immediately respond to an interview request.

The shooting happened as a demonstration outside the police department began to break up. The protest followed the resignation of city Police Chief Tom Jackson in the wake of a Justice Department report that found widespread racial bias in the city's police practices.

Protesters did not recognize Williams as one of their own, and he was not well known among neighbors.

Brittany Ferrell, 26, a protest leader with the group Millennial Activists United, said no one in her group knew Williams, and they checked with other frequent protesters, who also had not heard of him.

John Gaskin, a St. Louis NAACP leader, said of Williams, "I don't know him. I've never seen him."

On Monday, no one answered the door of the north St Louis County home Williams listed as his address on court records, and several neighbors said Monday they did not know him. The home is about 5 miles northeast of the police department.

According to 2014 county court records, Williams lived in the nearby community of Jennings, parts of which border Ferguson. But no one answered the door at that home either.

Online state court records show a man by the name of Jeffrey Williams at the address police provided Sunday was charged in 2013 with receiving stolen property and fraudulent use of a credit/debit device.

St. Louis County Police Chief Jon Belmar has called the shooting "an ambush" and said the two officers easily could have been killed.

A 41-year-old St. Louis County officer was shot in the right shoulder, the bullet exiting through his back. A 32-year-old officer from Webster Groves was wearing a riot helmet with the face shield up. He was shot in the right cheek, just below the eye, and the bullet lodged behind his ear.

The officers were released from the hospital hours after the attack.

The Ferguson Police Department has been a national focal point since Brown, who was black and unarmed, was killed by police officer Darren Wilson. A grand jury led by McCulloch declined to indict Wilson in November, and Wilson was cleared of civil rights charges by a Justice Department report released March 4. Wilson resigned in November.

A separate Justice Department report found widespread racial bias in the city's policing and in a municipal court system driven by profit extracted from mostly black and low-income residents.

Also Monday, the Urban League of Metropolitan St. Louis unveiled plans to transform the burned-out QuikTrip convenience store that had served as a symbol of protesters' rage into the Ferguson Community Empowerment Center, a job training site supported by more than $1 million in corporate donations.

___

Associated Press writers Jim Salter in St. Louis and Heather Hollingsworth in Kansas City, Missouri, contributed to this report.

© Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

 
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The man accused of shooting two police officers last week in Ferguson appeared in court Monday, a day after his arrest on charges that he fired on the men during a late-night protest.Jeffrey Williams, 20, did not make any statements during the brief hearing. St. Louis...
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2015-28-16
Monday, 16 Mar 2015 07:28 PM
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