DENVER — Ashley Ferris insists she's not a hero. But hundreds of people, many of them complete strangers, have sent cards and letters to her that say otherwise.
"I feel like I did my job," Ferris said on Wednesday, speaking publicly for the first time after she shot and killed the man police said had just killed five people in December. "I hope everyone knows that I read every card. I can't thank everyone enough. It meant a lot to me."
On Dec. 27, the Lakewood police agent was on patrol when she heard a radio call about a suspect who had killed three people in Denver, two of them at a tattoo shop.
"A short time later, I heard that we had a homicide in the north sector of our city, so I started to head that way," Ferris said. "There was a tattoo shop to the north of me that I thought he could be headed towards, so I took a perimeter spot at West Alaska and South Vance."
And that's when, Ferris said, she was approached by a man in dark clothing, wearing a police vest.
"I asked where he was coming from. He said he had come from the Wells Fargo," Ferris said. "You have a gut feeling, and I knew that this was the guy. He made a quick movement with his right hand and I tried to stop his hand and backed up and got distance and drew my gun and told him, 'don't do this,' and he said, 'I'll show you what I'll do.' And then we were engaged in a gunfight."
When the gunfight was over, the shooter, who killed a total of five people that day, was dead, and Ferris was on the ground, shot in the stomach.
"I was able to see when I hit him, he fell, and I remember thinking, OK, I got him, he's down," Ferris said. "I was lying on the ground and I angled myself so I could see him between the tires of my patrol vehicle. He made the choice to fire his gun at me and he sealed his fate that way."
> Watch the full interview with Ferris:
Ferris' injuries would require two surgeries, a total of about three weeks in the hospital and ongoing physical rehabilitation.
"When I was hit in the abdomen, the bullet fragmented and the fragments actually hit my sciatic nerve," Ferris said. "So I had a walker for a while, then a cane. Now I'm able to walk."
Ferris, a four-year veteran of the Lakewood Police Department, said she loves her job and the toughest part of the entire ordeal has been not being able to work. The plan now is for her to go on light duty next week and then be back on patrol sometime in the next few months.
"It sounds silly, but I think this has been a good event for me. It's given me a better focus on what matters," Ferris said. "I stress less about traffic, I can tell you that."
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