LAKEWOOD, Colo. — The night of Dec. 27, 2021, is a day Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris will never forget.
The officer, hailed as a hero, shot and killed a man who was in the middle of a shooting rampage that left five people dead in Denver and Lakewood. But she paid a hefty price putting an end to the deadly crime spree—she too was shot by the gunman and sustained serious injuries.
“I knew that this guy had obviously intentions to kill, and I didn't want them to hurt anyone else,” Ferris said during a press conference Wednesday. “There were tons of people in the area. My friends were out there, other officers, the community. I didn't want to let him win.”
The encounter left her with serious injuries. She was shot in the abdomen after ordering the gunman, 47-year-old Lyndon McLeod, to drop his weapon as he approached her. While on the ground wounded, she fired back at the gunman, killing him.
“He made a quick movement with his right hand, and I tried to stop him, tried to stop his hand. I backed up and got distance and drew my gun,” she said. "I 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.”
Ferris’ actions brought McLeod’s deadly rampage to an end.
"Honestly, I was angry. I was like, 'How dare he? How dare he do this?'" she said. "But all things considered, the best thing he could have done was display his weapon to me. Because at the time I didn't see his weapon. I didn't know who he was. What if I had let him walk away? But instead, he made the choice to fire his gun at me and he sealed his fate that way."
But before McLeod met his fate, he took the lives of Alicia Cardenas, 44; Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, 35; Danny Scofield, 38; Sarah Steck, 28, and Michael Swinyward, 67. The rampage began with a tattoo parlor near 1st Avenue and Broadway in Denver as the target. He continued his spree until the shooting in Belmar Shopping Center in Lakewood.
The gunman harbored extremist views and had a history of psychotic episodes, multiple law enforcement sources confirmed with ABC News.
The shooting left Ferris partially paralyzed at the scene. The bullet fragmented and struck her sciatic nerve. She stayed in the hospital for more than a week and was released on Jan 6.
She said Wednesday that her recovery is going well and she should be able to run soon.
“And now I'm able to walk. I don't have a limp anymore. It's really coming along. So, I'm hopeful that I'll be running soon,” she said.
Regaining that ability is important because she won’t be able to return to patrol until she can run. But in the meantime, she’ll be back on the force behind the desk starting Monday.
“So, I'll be following up on casework and warrants and stuff like that. Just desk stuff for now,” Ferris said.
Ferris is a four-year veteran of the department and became interested in police work during her time serving in the National Guard. A New York City police officer she trained with convinced her to apply.
Her bravery and the heroic acts of other officers that day were honored Wednesday during a special ceremony held at the Lakewood Cultural Center.