A 20-year-old man was charged on 15 March, 2015, 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 Williams, has admitted to firing the shots that wounded the officers early on 12 March, said St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Robert McCulloch. Gunfire rang out just after midnight at the end of a rally to call for sweeping reforms in Ferguson, where an unarmed black teenager was shot to death by a white officer last summer

"Essentially what we've charged him with is firing shots. It's possible at this point that he was firing shots at someone other than the police, but struck the police officers. So the charge is still assault in the first degree and they're class-A felonies for striking those two officers. There's a weapon recovered which has been tied to the shell casings that were recovered there and the weapon recovered from him and he has acknowledged his participation in firing the shots, or that in fact he did fire the shots that struck the two officers," said McCulloch.

In the shooting a 41-year-old county police officer suffered a shoulder wound and a 32-year-old colleague from a nearby police department sustained a facial wound that left a bullet lodged near his ear. Both were treated and released by a local hospital.