LAKEWOOD, Colo — On Dec. 27, 2021, life changed for Lakewood Police Agent Ashley Ferris.
She was the officer who stopped a shooter who had just killed five people in Lakewood and Denver that day. Agent Ferris has told her story from that time, but there's a part of it she's never told, until now.
That day Ferris found, of all things, purpose. “I needed a moment that would shake me and wake me, and that's what I got.”
No one knew it at the time, but Ferris was going through a tough time. “I was struggling with hypervigilance and stress, and I needed to be getting mental health help that I wasn't getting,” Ferris said. “It was my first Christmas alone after going through divorce. I was really miserable. I was feeling very alone.”
She was also working a lot of overtime, which just so happens to be the reason she was working that day.
“I went and I parked in the spot that I always park, it was a church parking lot,” Ferris said. “I just remember, and I sat there and I just started a spiral and I was crying and I was texting someone saying 'I just can't do this anymore.' That person said 'Are you planning on hurting yourself? Are you planning on killing yourself?' All the questions that we ask as police officers and I didn't respond, I navigated around it. And the truth was I was going to kill myself. I was gonna go home that night after work and use my off-duty gun and take my own life."
She didn't know it, but fate would intervene just moments down the road when she would be confronted by a killer in the middle of an intersection. He shot her, and she fatally shot him back.
It was that day that her life was saved.
“To see them run into a scene that they still believed to be active with an active gunman they run in and they grab me and they save me. I wasn't gonna give up the fight for my life after that, no way,” Ferris said.
And in that moment, her purpose became clear.
“That's so sad to me that I almost wasn't there. We never know when our moment's going to come and to take yourself out of the picture before you even have a chance, you just don't know down the road what's coming for you and to take yourself out of the game before you have a chance to fulfill your life's meaning. That's a tragedy,” Ferris said.
Ferris is not on the streets anymore. She’s in the classroom.
“I now work for the university of Tennessee under their institute for public service,” she said.
She said she hopes her story shows others to hold on. Your purpose may also be just moments down the road.
“I can't help the community in the same way, but I can be vulnerable because the problem is we're all struggling and we're not saying it."
Watch the extended interview with Ashley Ferris here.
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