Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris was honored May 18 for her role in stopping a Dec. 27, 2021 shooting rampage that left five people dead.
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In a press conference before the ceremony, Ferris said she didn’t feel like a hero, but rather, like someone who did her job — a job she said was her honor to perform.
Ferris, having received hundreds of cards, letters and other gifts to cheer her on as she recovered from wounds sustained in the incident, is clearly thought of as a hero by her department and community.
“I’ve had some people ask me if I’m going to come back to Patrol, and I think I’ve made it clear already that that’s where my heart is,” she said. “And I absolutely will be back because the community really showed up for me.”
Ferris encountered gunman Lyndon McLeod, 47, after he had killed 28-year-old Sarah Steck — a desk clerk at the Hyatt House hotel in Belmar.
“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,” Ferris 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 took a bullet in the exchange, being struck in the abdomen, but was able to return fire, killing McLeod and bringing the day’s string of tragedies to an end.
“I knew that this guy had obviously intentions to kill, and I didn't want him to hurt anyone else,” she said.
During her press conference remarks, Ferris gave a special shout-out to a local Girl Scout troop, thanking them for a homemade card containing a band-aid. She said the band-aid was too special to use. She also wanted everyone who sent her a letter or gift to know she’s kept everything, re-reading the cards and letters several times during her recovery.
“I would really like to thank everyone. The outpouring of support has been paramount in my healing and my recovery,” Ferris said. “I think in a time where policing is kind of a tough job, that was just incredible to see.”
Though she was initially partially paralyzed from injuries she sustained, Ferris said she’s recovered the use of her leg and hopes to be running again in the near future.
In addition to Steck, McLeod killed four other victims that evening, including Alicia Cardenas, 44; Alyssa Gunn-Maldonado, 35; Danny Scofield, 38; and Michael Swinyward, 67.
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