The Austin Chronicle

Safety Instructor Fired After Insulting Massacre Survivors

Caldwell County detective lost his job after his presentation at Lockhart High School

By Jordan Buckley, September 9, 2022, News

A Caldwell County detective – and also the president of the Luling ISD Board – lost his job at Texas State University last month following outrage over a safety presentation at Lockhart High School on Aug. 11. In it, Det. Jeff Ferry played videos of mass shootings and narrated, using derogatory slurs about survivors. Before day's end, Lockhart ISD Superintendent Mark Estrada sent an email to teachers and other faculty 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 (ALERRT) Center at Texas State, played a series of massacre film clips with commentary on best practices amid unanticipated violence. For Heather Bruch, a former Austin Community College instructor, Ferry's presentation marked her first day as a math teacher at Lockhart Junior High.

"He played videos of shooter situations and insulted the victims' reactions ... female victims, he referred to them as 'baby,'" Bruch said. "Ferry kept making fun of foreign accents. I kept looking around for someone to stand up and cut him off, but when no one did I just left."

A counselor employed by the school district, who asked to remain anonymous, told the Chronicle that Bruch wasn't alone. "Seasoned teachers were angry and stormed out of the auditorium," they said, noting that Ferry made light of murder-suicide by suggesting a hypothetical circumstance: "If my wife is banging the shop teacher and I go and kill him, my wife, and myself ..." He then reportedly stopped to gauge the room as many in the audience appeared shocked, shaking their heads. Ferry dismissed their concern by declaring, "I'm an elected official, so I can say whatever I want."

The uproar over Ferry's presentation boiled over to Facebook after the Caldwell/Hays Examiner page posted allegations by faculty who had attended. "What I was accused of didn't happen. I don't mock victims," Ferry exclaimed on their page.

A few days later, C/HE posted a clip from a training video bearing the emblems of ALERRT and Texas State. In it, Ferry narrates over footage of a 2015 mass shooting in France, where four people died at a kosher eatery.

"This is that Jewish deli attack. You see our bad guy walk in," Ferry blazons. Grainy footage depicts individuals sprinting for safety. "Again, this is in Paris, so you'll see the French do what the French are best at: You'll see them run away." Ferry pauses – as if waiting for laughter – and discharges a pair of finger pistols at the camera with a prideful grin. He then renews the play-by-play, announcing: "You'll notice different froggies in different cars kinda taking off there."

Ferry's word choice for those fleeing for their lives amid the antisemitic bloodshed – "froggies" and later "Frenchies" – did not sit well with the Lone Star State's chief diplomat for France. "I cannot but deplore the offensive remarks and biased cliches made by Mr. Ferry," Valérie Baraban, consul general of France in Houston, told the Chronicle. "Above all, I think of the victims of these terrible attacks. Such remarks lack the basic respect and thorough understanding one needs while participating in the public debate."

Asked how Ferry's slurs against survivors measure up to Texas State's values, campus spokesman Jayme Blaschke said they were "not acceptable"; Ferry's comments "were inappropriate and do not reflect the values of Texas State and ALERRT to treat all people with respect and dignity."

On Aug. 17, Ferry issued a mea culpa and acknowledged he had been canned: "ALERRT has notified me of their decision to revoke my status as an adjunct instructor," adding, "I said things that were, frankly embarrassing and unbecoming of who I am, and for that I apologize."

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