Ferguson gunman says he didn't target cops

Mar 16, 2015 10:59 AM by CBS News

Missouri police are holding the man who confessed to shooting two police officers in Ferguson during a demonstration Thursday. Activists say Jeffrey William was not a regular protester and they're worried that police tying him -- and his arrest -- to their movement could complicate their mission of non-violence.

The 20-year-old faces assault charges, but says police were not his target, reports CBS News correspondent Dean Reynolds.

The two officers were hit by gunfire early Thursday morning in front of the Ferguson Police Department as demonstrators gathered hours after Ferguson Police Chief Thomas Jackson announced he would step down this month.

Williams said he pulled the trigger from inside a vehicle, but told investigators the police officers were not his targets.

"He has acknowledged his participation in firing the shots, that in fact he did fire the shots that struck the two officers," McCulloch said, adding that the weapon used was a 40 mm handgun.

Witnesses said the gunfire came from a hill overlooking the Ferguson police station.

Police said Williams, who lives about five miles from the station, was at the protest before the shooting.

"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.

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.

Robinson told CBS News the young man wasn't actively involved in the protest.

"He protested in August but as of the six months he has not been a protester," Robinson said. "We don't want our narrative as protesters to be painted wrong. We've worked so hard to rebuild this community."

Authorities said the investigation is ongoing and there may be other suspects. Williams, who is on probation for receiving stolen property, is being held on a $300,000 cash bond.

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