Lakewood, Colorado, Police Officer Ashley Ferris is returning to duty nearly five months after being shot while stopping a rampaging gunman’s killing spree on December 27.
Ferris spoke to the media for the first time about her heroic actions on the day a gunman killed five people in a shooting spree that spanned the cities of Lakewood and Denver.
According to Ferris, when she encountered the shooter, she initially thought he was an officer from another department or a security guard because of the police vest he was wearing. However, after asking him a few questions, she knew something was wrong.
The confrontation unfolded just minutes after Lakewood dispatch warned of a gunman on the loose who had killed several people.
The man then made a sudden movement with his hand, causing Ferris to draw her gun.
“Don’t do this,” she remembered saying to the man.
“I’ll show you what I’ll do,” the man replied before pulling a gun from his jacket and shooting her in the abdomen. Wounded, Ferris fired several rounds at the man as he ran away, killing him.
While bleeding on the ground, Ferris’ initial reaction was anger.
“I didn’t want to let him win,” she told reporters in her first interview since the shooting. Ferris was later credited with stopping the gunman’s killing spree and potentially saving countless lives.
The shooter, 47-year-old Lyndon McLeod, killed five people and had attempted to kill several others.
“I don’t feel like a hero. I feel like I did my job,” Ferris said. “I do think the irony is kind of beautiful … that guy didn’t like women too much,” she added, referring to three novels written by McLeod that contained racist and misogynist ideologies.
Ferris was left temporarily paralyzed in her right leg due to damage to the sciatic nerve. Now, after five months, two surgeries and hundreds of hours of physical therapy, she is finally ready to return to duty at the Lakewood Police Department. She said she will start with desk work for a while before returning to patrol duty, as she still needs to learn how to run.
Ferris was recently honored by the department in a ceremony with other officers involved in the shooting. She added that the support from her colleagues and the community motivated her to return to work.
“This community showed up for me so much and I’m going to keep showing up for them. The outpouring of support has been paramount in my healing and my recovery. I hope everyone knows I read every card and I’ve read them all multiple times. I haven’t thrown out a single thing,” she said.