LAKEWOOD, Colo. (CBS4) – The Lakewood police agent who saved lives after killing an active shooter in December of last year is sharing her story of heroism for the first time with the community. Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris was shot and wounded at the end of December after engaging in a gunfight with an armed suspect who was linked to a multi-city shooting spree at Denver metro tattoo shops.
Ferris, who is recovering from gunshot wounds to her abdomen and leg, said she still vividly remembers the night she encountered the shooter. She said she was aware of reports of several shootings at tattoo parlors around Lakewood and Denver that evening. Denver Police had identified the suspect's vehicle description and sent out an alert for nearby agencies to be on the lookout.
An agent in Lakewood radioed in that he saw the vehicle driving through Lakewood. Following a hunch, Ferris said she decided to proactively go and stand guard near a tattoo parlor.
"There was a tattoo shop to the north of me that I thought he could be headed towards," Ferris said. "Sure enough, he walked up to me."
Ferris said she noticed the suspect due to his protective gear. However, at first glance, she was not sure if he was a threat or not as a suspect description had not been released.
"He was wearing a police vest and was loading magazines. So, I wasn't sure if he was from another agency," Ferris said.
Ferris said she approached the suspect and had a short conversation. She asked him where he was coming from, and he responded by saying the bank. At the time Ferris said she was unaware that there were shots fired at a nearby bank just moments before.
After asking if he was a security guard at a nearby company, Ferris said she knew something was off. Following a hunch, Ferris said she knew the man she was talking to was the suspect in the other area shootings. When she went to make contact with him that is when the gunman reached for his waistband.
"I told him, 'Don't do this.' And, he said, 'I'll show you what I'll do,'" Ferris recalled. "And then we were engaged in a gunfight."
Ferris said she believes the gunman shot her first. She remembered being paralyzed in one leg as she fell backward. She had already retrieved her gun and started to return fire.
"I didn't have to do much thinking, it was all very automatic," Ferris said.
As she was lying on the ground Ferris said she was confident she accurately stopped the threat.
"He made the choice to fire his gun at me, and he sealed his fate that way," Ferris said. "When I hit him, he fell, and I remember thinking, 'Okay I got him, he's down.'"
Ferris said she felt at peace, almost in another mindset, as she lay on the ground waiting for backup. She said she had lost her hearing temporarily following the gunfire. She recalled laying on the cement and peacefully thinking the lights in the shopping area were beautiful.
Moments later her fellow officers, who she refers to as friends, arrived on scene. One picked her up and loaded her into his squad car and rushed her to the hospital. She recalled being carried into the hospital on his back.
"Thinking about that right now I still get goosebumps. It was hard for me to believe I was the officer down," Ferris said.
On Wednesday afternoon, Ferris and other officers involved in the incident were recognized by the City of Lakewood for their actions.
In the five months since the shooting Ferris has been doing rehab and visiting with a psychologist. She said, mentally, she is in a great place. She said she almost felt fortunate that she was the officer involved in the shooting as it has given her a greater outlook on life.
Physically, Ferris is nearing a full return to health. She has regained her ability to walk without the need for a walker or cane. She also no longer walks with a limp. However, she said she does have some irritation in her right leg throughout the day, comparing it to a sensation of having a sunburn.
Ferris said, once she regains her ability to run, she is looking forward to returning to patrol.
"The hardest part of this has been not being with my friends. My friends are the ones who pulled me out of there," Ferris said.
for more features.