NEW YORK – Feris Jones' make-my-day moment came Saturday evening at a Brooklyn beauty salon.
The New York Police Department officer was off duty and getting her hair done when an armed bandit came in and announced a holdup. Police say she coolly drew her own pistol and exchanged fire.
The result was cinematic: Jones managed to both shoot the suspect's gun out of his hand and the handle off the front door, briefly blocking his escape.
After following a trail of blood, police arrested the alleged robber shortly after midnight Monday at a flophouse. He remained hospitalized with hand injuries as word of the officer's exploits spread, drawing praise from superiors and comparisons to former NYPD officer Arlene Beckles, who became an instant folk hero in 1994 by outdueling three armed bandits in a hair salon shootout.
Officer Jones' "reserve under fire was only matched by her marksmanship," Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said Monday through a spokesman.
It was unclear whether Jones' marksmanship was intentional, police said. The NYPD trains officers to aim at "center mass" when using deadly force.
Jones, 50, a Barbados native and divorced mother of an adult child, had never fired a gun in the line of duty during her two-decade police career. Officials described her as a respected member of the force, most recently assigned to the crime lab.
The botched robbery began around 6:30 p.m. Saturday after employees buzzed a nervous-acting woman into Sabine's Hallway Beauty Salon, a narrow shop with three styling chairs. She asked a few questions about services and left the door ajar — on purpose, police now suspect.
The alleged gunman, Winston Cox, burst in moments later with a .44-caliber revolver raised.
"This ain't no joke!" witnesses recalled him shouting. "This is a robbery! I will kill you!"
The 19-year-old Cox ordered the four women in the salon — Jones, another patron, the owner and an employee — to put their valuables in a black bag he was carrying as he herded them into a back bathroom, police said. When he went to retrieve the owner's handbag on a counter in the middle of the salon, Jones pulled out her off-duty five-shot revolver, held it at her side and told the other women, "Everyone get down."
Police said Jones faced off with Cox at a distance of about 12 feet and identified herself as a police officer. They say Cox responded by opening fire. The officer shot back.
His four shots missed. Her five rounds disarmed him and disabled the door.
Cox picked up his pistol and tried to flee but found himself trapped, police said. He was forced to kick out a window and crawl out to the sidewalk.
Responding to a 911 call from Jones giving a description of the suspect, police launched a manhunt using bloodhounds. It led them to his mothers' nearby home, where they found a bag holding stolen wallets and his blood-spattered gun, police said.
Several hours later, investigators tracked him down at the hotel. He answered the door of his room with his right hand wrapped in a makeshift bandage of paper towels.
Asked whether he was injured, police said, he responded: "She shot me in the hand."