Det. Jeff Ferry makes guns after joking French people fleeing mass shooting did ‘what the French know how to do best: you’ll see them run away’ (Screenshot via Lockhart ISD)
A Caldwell County Detective – and also the president of the Luling ISD Board of Directors – lost his job Texas State University last month following outrage over a safety presentation at Lockhart High School on August 11. In it, Det. Jeff Ferry aired videos of mass shootings and narrated, using derogatory slurs about the survivors. Before the end of the day, Lockhart ISD Superintendent Mark Estrada sent an email to teachers and other professors who attended the Civilian Response to Active Shooter Events training “to apologize for some of the comments that were made by the presenter”, which Estrada described as “offensive”.
During the presentation, Ferry, who was an instructor for the Advanced Law Enforcement Rapid Response Training Center (ALERRT) in Texas State aired a series of massacre movie clips with commentary on best practices in the midst of unforeseen violence. For Heather Brucha former teacher at Austin Community College, Ferry’s presentation marked her first day as a math teacher at Lockhart Junior High.
“He played videos of shooting situations and insulted the reactions of the victims … of the female victims, he called them ‘babies,'” Bruch said. “Ferry kept making fun of the foreign accents. I kept looking for someone to stand up and cut him off, but when no one did, I left.”
A counselor employed by the school district, who asked to remain anonymous, told the the Chronicle that Bruch was not alone. “The senior teachers were angry and left the auditorium,” they said, noting that Ferry shed light on the murder-suicide by suggesting a hypothetical circumstance: “If my wife hits the teacher in the workshop and that I’m going to kill him, my wife, and myself…” He then reportedly stopped to survey the room as many onlookers looked shocked, shaking their heads. Ferry dismissed their concern, saying, “I’m an elected official, so I can say whatever I want.”
The outcry over Ferry’s presentation spilled over to Facebook after the Caldwell/Hays Examiner page posted allegations from professors who had attended. “What I was accused of didn’t happen. I don’t make fun of the victims,” Ferry exclaimed on their page.
A few days later, C/HE posted an excerpt from a training video bearing the ALERRT and State of Texas emblems. In it, Ferry recounts footage from a 2015 mass shooting in France, where four people died in a kosher restaurant.
“It’s the attack on a Jewish grocery store. You see our bad guy come in,” Ferry blazons. Grainy footage shows individuals sprinting for safety. “Again, it’s Paris, so you’ll see the French doing what the French do best: you’ll see them running away.” Ferry pauses – as if expecting the laughter – and unloads a pair of finger guns at the camera with a proud smile. He then renews the play-by-play, announcing, “You’ll notice different frogs in different cars taking off a bit over there.”
Ferry’s choice of words for those fleeing for their lives amid anti-Semitic bloodshed — “froggies” and later “Frenchies” — didn’t sit well with the Lone Star State’s chief diplomat for France. “I can only deplore the offensive remarks and biased clichés made by Mr. Ferry”, Valerie BarabanConsul General of France in Houston, told the the Chronicle. “Above all, I am thinking of the victims of these terrible attacks. Such statements lack the basic respect and deep understanding needed to participate in public debate.”
Asked how far Ferry’s slurs against survivors live up to Texas state values, campus spokesperson Jayme Blaschke said they were “not acceptable”; Ferry’s comments “were inappropriate and do not reflect the values of the State of Texas and ALERRT to treat all people with respect and dignity.”
On August 17, Ferry issued a mea culpa and admitted he had been canned: “ALERRT informed me of their decision to revoke my assistant instructor status,” adding, “I said things frankly embarrassing and unworthy of who I am and I apologize for that.”