By Stephen Deere

The likelihood of Ferguson Mayor James Knowles III being ousted just got a lot smaller.

A group collecting signatures for a recall petition to remove Knowles from office gathered only 1,008 valid signatures, about 800 fewer than needed, said Eric Fey, director of the St. Louis County Board of Elections.

The group handed in 1,984 signatures, but 562 were discounted because they didn't come from registered voters.

An additional 366 were tossed out because they were not from voters registered in Ferguson, Fey said.

In a statement, Knowles said: "We understand the rights of the petitioners and their recall efforts. But for as long as I am mayor, I will continue to work with council and staff to bring together the citizens of Ferguson, and to move our community forward with the many reforms and initiatives that we have been working on for several months."

Tony Rice, one of the leaders of Ground Level Support, a group of protesters and activists that formed after the killing of Michael Brown, said that he hasn't give up on the recall effort.

Rice said that according to the city's charter it appears the group should have an additional 10 days to amend the petition with more signatures.

"Eight hundred is going to be tough to pull off, but we are going to try," he said. "That's for sure."

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