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“The man arrested for the shooting of two police officers during last week’s protests in Ferguson, Missouri, has been identified as Jeffrey Williams, 20,” reports. “St. Louis County Prosecuting Attorney Bob McCulloch said he’s been charged with two counts of first-degree assault, among other charges, and is being held on a cash-only $300,000 bond. Thanks to information provided by the public, police were able to locate a weapon at suspect Jeffrey Williams’ home: a .40-caliber handgun that ‘has been tied to the shell casings that were recovered’ at the scene in Ferguson, Missouri.” The man calls “a protestor” admits to the shooting but claims he wasn’t trying to kill cops . . .

McCulloch said Williams admitted firing the shots but said he was shooting at someone else.

“We’re not sure we buy that part of it,” McCulloch said, adding that the handgun used in the shooting has been recovered.

He said Williams was involved in the demonstration that was wrapping up when the incident took place.

More info as we get it.

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  1. Can you tie a particular handgun to shell casings beyond the fact that the gun is chambered for the caliber of the casings?

      • What are the ways? Do extractors leave distinctive marks? Is there something about the way the case swages into the chamber that leaves a signature?

        • Yes you can. The extractor leaves what are called striations on the rim of the case. Additionally the firing pin will leave them when the pin impacts the primer. This is why the idiot libs want microstamping. However, these unique marks can be changed through cleaning, judicious stoning etc. Additionally, the bolt, or the area around the gun frame coming in contact with the bottom of the cartridge case will leave striations, due to recoil, when the round is fired. Don’t forget the fingerprint possibility on cases either.

        • Extractor marks. Under a scanning electron microscope they can ‘photograph’ the marks and compare them.

          Anything the case touches can potentially be used to match the shell to the firearm…

          Yeah, Carlos. You’re on the right track on that…

        • Microscopic tool marks.

          You can ID primer indents to specific firing pins, at least sometimes. Breech face marks, extractor marks (for semi-autos), etc.

          This has been established forensic science since at least the 1970’s.

        • The extractor ‘gouges’ the brass, so no, it won’t remove the marks but tumbling may shine it up some.

        • “What if it’s reloaded ammo? Will tumbling the brass remove the marks?”

          Tumbling the brass will have little to no effect. However …

          If the brass has been fired more than once, it will sure confuse the analysis. If it has been fired from more than one weapon, the confusion will be increased.

          If it has been fired enough times, it is unlikely a proper match will meet the forensic standard of “Reasonable Scientific Certainty,” which basically means “If I show this to other analysts, they will agree it’s a match.”

          I’ve got some 9mm brass that the heads are beat up so bad there is simply no way that brass could be matched with the original pistol that fired it.

          Also, it will help to remember too that as the pistol ‘ages’ the tool marks will change….especially if a firing pin or extractor is swapped.

          The key point to the original question is that brass CAN be matched to a specific firearm, but it is not a definitive conclusion that it will or can be. Each possible change to either brass or firearm renders the statistical likelihood of match lower.

        • I meant if the same rounds were still in the handgun. I really know jack about forensics, I’m just tying the most obvious things together.

        • Different companies can use different powder. They can ‘mass spectrometer’ the residue to a lot, potentially.

        • ok….as someone trained in forensics…. they match the empty casing to a gun via the firing pin impression, the bolt face impresion the extractor and ejector marks. with all these distinctive marks they can in most cases tie the casing to a specific firearm. However, without the gun used to compare it to, all they can do is ascertain caliber and manufacturer. These markings are compared to a known sample test fired from the firearms and comprared under an electron microscope. This is unless the gun has previously been entered into NIBIN/IBIS.

    • A couple states have a database of spent casings (I think Maryland is one). That’s why you get that envelope with an expended case when you buy a handgun. In those states, the dealer is supposed to ship the case to the state police along with the record of sale.

      The last time I checked, those states had been able to use this technique to solve exactly zero cases.

      It’s probably even less reliable than barrel markings on a copper jacket, but if there is something in the chamber that creates a distinguishable mark on the case, it could help.

      Also remember that there’s a difference between the solid evidence the cops say they have, the evidence that will hold up in court, and the evidence that’s based on sound science.

      • Yeah NY tried that. It’s absurd and never went anywhere. Another example of lawmakers writing legislation without having any idea what they’re doing. Or perhaps after being captured by companies who are hoping to get a contract to build the computer system to analyze and store the information.

    • Any transfer marks can be used. There is a uniqueness each firearm transfers to the cartridge case and bullet whenever a weapon is fired.
      The firearm’s surfaces (firing pin/striker, breach, barrel, etc.) that contact the softer cartridge case and bullet contain random, unique, mirregularities that make it different from other firearms even those of the exact same model. These differences can be used to identify or eliminate a weapon as being used in a crime, if a cartridge case or bullet is recovered at the crime scene. This is done by comparing the markings made on the cartridge cases or bullets when fired, using the firearms examiner’s key tool: the comparison microscope.

    • Marks and impressions left on the cartridge by the firing pin, extractor, ejector, and chamber can be as definitive for evidentiary purposes in a criminal case as fingerprints.

    • The gun and ammo are booked as evidence. The gun is taken to a lab where the gun is fired with the same ammo used in the crime. Numerous tests are conducted, fingerprints, ejected shells match, rifling on collected bullets, powder burns (as applicable), photos, etc.

      There’s a backlog in LA county due to the number of shootings. Some cases get prioritized above others.

  2. Yes, you can match a casing to a particular firearm. The cartridge case can show three distinct marks, or ‘signatures,’ impressed on its surface when it was fired by a gun: the firing pin impression, the breech face impression and the ejector mark.

    • Wow. Someone please call CA AG Harris’ office. She seems to believe microstamping is the only way…
      And has been banning sale of handguns for this reason.

      Unless, of course, its a smart gun.

    • To a particular make/model, sure.

      Not to a specific, exact singular gun. No. No, you cannot.

      Of course, The State would like that lie to take hold and be believed… There are plenty of Countries who ahve been stripped of their Gun Rights (and can’t do the research to prove it wrong) where the population is taught to believe in all kinds of BS forensics. Lets not let the USA become one of them, k?

      • Your last paragraph is pretty much my train of thought, and the reason I asked the question. That and the fact that the news article said that the casings had been “matched” to the recovered gun.

      • Your mistaken Dustin, a crime lab can match up empty brass to a particular firearm with ease if they have both the gun and the brass. Does that worry you?

      • Dustin, You are right on the money here. The Idea that Ballistic fingerprinting can reliably match a case to gun is one that should not make sense given how the number of variables involved in leaving and impression in a case ( the hardness of the brass, the presence of lubricants and coatings, the pressure profile of the burning powder)

        According to to the Justice departments of Claifornia and New yorkBallistic finger printing only has a sucess rate of less than 70% under ideal conditions ( same gun, same ammo and tightly controlled conditions). When there load or the ammo are varied the success rate dropped below 30% .

        It can be a useful part of a case for corroborating other evidence, but if it were the only piece of evidence to convict someone, it should not be regarded as adequate. Would you sent someone to prison for life if you only had, a 30%-70% certainly that that piece of evidence was correct?

        Juries really need to understand this.

      • Well, if the parts of the gun that are making the marks and impressions on teh shell casing are worn to a particular degree or in a particular way, that wear could show up in the casing as well. Like tire tread marks or shoe prints the tread pattern only matches a particular brand or make and model, but the specific wear patterns might be matched to a specific gun.

    • Are firing pins, breech faces, and extractors that unique to each particular handgun? In the same way that lands and grooves in the barrel evidently are?

      • I don’t even think the land and groove bullet identification works most of the time. It’s not like TV. But if you just confessed it’s good enough to prove your probably not lying.

      • At some level, yes. No two parts are the same, so if you can get good enough ‘resolution’ you can get pretty definitive. Of course if you get exact enough the parts will change slightly after every shot, so…

        • Yes. This is what I’ve always heard. If someone commits a murder and then takes their pistol to the range and shoots a couple thousand rounds through it the cases and bullets won’t match since there’s so much wear between the two samples. Add to that the odds of getting a suitable bullet sample after the bullet crashes through bone and potentially a concrete wall 20 feet behind the victim and matching anything is pretty iffy.

          Fingerprint identification is kind of the same thing. There’s no national database that can be checked online and come up with a match in seconds. Most of the time only partial prints can be found and even full prints need to be painstakingly analyzed by hand against a known suspect to come up with anything.

  3. “Apparently, the man calls “a protestor” admits to the shooting but claims he wasn’t trying to kill cops . . .”

    Bullets of love, no doubt, bullets of love.
    That’s what’s wrong with society today. Every time someone shoots or stabs or punches a cop you guys think it is done with the intent to harm the officer! Nonsense! (contorted explanation/)

    • ““Apparently, the man calls “a protestor” admits to the shooting but claims he wasn’t trying to kill cops . . .””

      That’s his story, and he’s sticking to it. If he were smart, he’ll STFU now.

  4. I thought the shots were taken at beyond handgun distance. Or beyond a non-gun guy’s handgun distance at least.

    • Handguns still have plenty of power at well over 100 yards to kill, they are just too difficult for most people to hit their intended targets. But if you fire at a line of police you’re bound to hit one of them, kind of like the old muskets that spun a ball off in a different direction with every shot – with the enemy soldiers lined up it didn’t matter much.

  5. Asked about Jeffrey Williams, President Obama said “if I had a son, he sure as sh1t wouldn’t look like that dude.”

  6. “not trying to kill anyone”…just shoot into the air then. He’ll get off easy. Ya know…he’s a good boy…had a bad upbringing…no father…got in a gang…drugs…no $15 an hour minimum wage job there…found a pistol…accidentally went off…a few times…40 hours community service at the police station.

  7. I watched the Press Conference, the shooter is sooooooooo smart that he figured the best time to settle a dispute with ( not the cops ), was a pistol from a long way away where there was a whole bunch of cops, and a dwindling number of protestors as it was cold and midnightish. He also had a warrant for Failure To Appear. But he wuz a goods boy.
    Sorry Eric Holder, Sharpton, etc. it wasn’t a pissed off Tea Party Right Wing NRA anti govt closet KKK domestic lone wolf extremist militia Bundy Ranch protestor.
    Just a stupid young black man.
    That’s it. Plain and simple. Let’s see how the MSM addresses that.
    Let me know if he passed a background check to legally purchase said .40. I’ll wait.

    • Since Williams was on probation for receiving stolen property, I’m guessing that he bought his fo-tay on the Internet. Or he 3D printed it. Fortunately, he didn’t have any cop-killer armor piercing M855 ammunition or there would have been mass destruction.

    • There’s been a lot of speculation by low gun info idiots in the news media that whoever fired the shots had to have been a skilled marksman. Unbelievable that the dumb@$$es can’t figure out that when you have dozens of targets standing shoulder to shoulder and you shoot in amongst them, it’s more likely than not your going to hit somebody, I believe the technical term is “covey shot”.

  8. Give him his day in court, give him the opportunity to defend himself. If he is indeed the guilty party, then hopefully the prosecution brings forth an iron clad case and this individual gets put behind bars were he belongs for a very LONG time. If he is however innocent may he not have to be inconvenienced longer than is necessary. That is due process, we do not need the biased racism of an Al Sharpton or Jesse Jackson coming in with their circus act.

  9. “We’re not sure we buy that part of it”

    That is government speak for “we sure as hell don’t buy that part of it.” I think the bad guy would have been better off telling the police he was shooting at space aliens who were threatening unicorns with poison lollipops.

    • What Prosecutor McCollough communicated so eloquently at the news conference without coming right out and saying it is; whether or not Jeffrey Williams targeted the Police Officers or was shooting at someone else and missed, he’s f#@ked either way, it’s the same class felony crime with a maximum penalty of life in prison.

  10. USA Today also failed to note the race of the “protestor” but went out of its way to note the races of “unarmed black teen” Michael Brown and the white cop who shot him.

    The same newspaper also went to great length to tie the Brown shooting to the subsequent Holder investigation, but omitted the DOJ’s findings that completely exonerated Wilson.

    And speak of Holder…he’s quoted in the USA Today report as follows:
    “This arrest sends a clear message that acts of violence against our law enforcement personnel will never be tolerated,” Holder said in the statement.

    The article does not go on to quote Holder explaining how Michael Brown’s acts of violence against law enforcement personnel last summer were “not tolerated” by canonizing the late assailant, demonizing Darren Wilson and launching a massive federal investigation to convict the him of anything they could find or manufacture…and still coming up short. Oh, and fanning the flames of racial discord.

  11. Update from the firearms geniuses at HuffBlo:

    “Williams used a 40mm handgun, which matches the shell casings at the scene.”

    Wow. I never knew that someone could mount a grenade launcher to a Hi-Point.

  12. It was kind of amusing that during his statement at the news conference, St. Louis County Prosecutor Bob McCullough only described the suspect as Jeffrey Williams, age 20, and didn’t mention his race. Even the most naïve journalist should have known it’s a clue that whenever race is conveniently omitted, it’s safe to assume the perpetrator is black. After the Prosecutor was done someone finally asked the St. Louis County Police Chief about race, I’m sure there was more than a few heartbroken bleeding heart liberal reporters at the news conference when the Chief answered that Williams was African American, since they were hoping for a blonde haired blue eyed Republican shooter who was a card carrying member of the NRA and KKK.

  13. So this peaceful protester now says he was firing a gun at someone else and managed to get a 50-100% accuracy rate on cops nearby?

    He had a day or two, couldn’t this peaceful protester have come up with a better story than that?

  14. While this show doesn’t address the positive id of shell casings,
    it does discuss many of the problems of other forensic evidence:

    A few years ago PBS’ NOVA did a show on forensics.
    Like all things PBS it has its own agenda.
    Still, I think there’s plenty to be skeptical about when it comes to forensic evidence.

    And then of course there’s that law enforcement favorite the ‘Lie Detector’
    Here’s Penn & Teller discussing this device on Bullsh*t:

    • Lie detector tests are not forensic. That said, finger prints are almost complete BS, as has been admitted by the FBI, as are bit marks and a host of other evidence used to convict, incarcerate, and execute people–and all of these are forensic.

  15. What’s up with the obsession some in this forum have with linking empty cartridges forensically to a specific firearm? Guilty conscious? Cause for concern about pending murders you intend to carry out? You can deny and equivocate till the cows come home, but you can bet your @$$ that if you commit a crime with gun, a crime lab can with ease link cartridges to a specific firearm and that evidence will be used to send your dumb@$$ to the penitentiary.

    • @tedunlis

      “What’s up with the obsession some in this forum have with linking empty cartridges forensically to a specific firearm? Guilty conscious? Cause for concern about pending murders you intend to carry out? You can deny and equivocate till the cows come home, but you can bet your @$$ that if you commit a crime with gun, a crime lab can with ease link cartridges to a specific firearm and that evidence will be used to send your dumb@$$ to the penitentiary.”

      If by “a crime lab can with ease link cartridges to a specific firearm and that evidence” you mean that a prosecutor can wave the results of the crime lab report around and convince a group of people to stupid to avoid jury duty that public defender defended defendant is guilty, you are right. American Juries convict over 95% of the time. Moral of the story, don’t get arrested on felony charges. However, this is a very different question to whether Ballistics finger printing is scientifically proven to be reliable.

      Here are a couple of very good reasons to be skeptical and dig further.

      1) Because, contrary to CSI, Ballistics fingerprinting is unreliable under best of circumstances. This has been quite thoroughly demonstrated under scientific conditions. We, POTG need to understand this because we have a responsibility to be better informed than the general public. So that we can be better jurors and better commentators on the passing scene. (As a manufacturing engineer, I can tell you that if it were this easy to reliably reproduce micron size features in hot stamped metal, which is basically the process that ballistics fingerprinting relies upon, I would not have a job.)

      2) We do not have a duty to blindly swallow everything the media or the police or state prosecutors tell us. It is a twisted leap of authoritarian logic to equate doubting government sponsored unscientific bull%h!t with criminal intent. This is on par with typical anti gun logic that equates an interest in guns with criminal intent: “Why do you surf gun blogs Ted? I sense that you are gun obsessed Ted. President Obama said that guns kill people. Which elementary school do you wish to shoot up?”

      3) As is mentioned in the links, the Anti gun lobby is invested in convincing people that Ballistics fingerprinting is sound science. This underpins their push for ballistics databases which inherently require gun registration. Like all things anti-gun, this is based on horse-hockey. We thus have a vested interest in exposing it as such.

      • Stop embarrassing yourself Paul, ballistic fingerprinting and forensic analysis to match cartridges to firearms from unique marks and impressions left on the case by the firing pin, extractor, ejector, bolt face, and chamber are two different things.

  16. I have read a few places that the shots were fired 125 yards from the police. Can anyone else provide more information? Were the cartridges recovered that distance from where the officers were hit?


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