FRESNO, California (KSEE) — It’s been more than seven months since Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy John Erickson was shot in the line of duty. To honor his bravery that day, Erickson was decorated with a Purple Heart on Wednesday during a ceremony by the Sheriff’s Office.
July 2, 2019, is a fuzzy day for Erickson, but he’ll never forget the moment he responded to that fateful land dispute call in Tollhouse.
“I remember just putting my vehicle in park and all of a sudden my windshield is getting torn apart,” he said.
Erickson would eventually get struck by bullets three times, one of which would break his leg. He’d also get hit by shrapnel on his face. He was airlifted to Community Regional Medical Center in downtown Fresno for surgery — eventually being released nine days later.
He received his Purple Heart in a promotions, swearing-in and awards ceremony at the Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium.
He wasn’t the only one to be recognized at the ceremony. Dep. Gary Davenport got a Medal of Valor and Vince Sierras got an official commendation for their heroic actions that kept Erickson alive.
Davenport was on the same call as Erickson. He provided initial back-up while help was on the way.
“I did what I could. God kind of kept the bullets from coming my way so I was able to succeed in protecting my friend,” Davenport said.
Sierras was riding in the same patrol vehicle as Erickson. He, along with Davenport, helped get Erickson to a safe spot.
“I was putting myself at risk, I was not even thinking about that at that moment, [though],” Sierras said. “The only thing I could think of was getting my best friend to safety.”
A lot of other first responders were also honored for their actions that day as well, including a dispatcher and officers from other agencies.
While the injuries have healed, there’s still a lot of pain from that day. Erickson is still on leave from the Sheriff’s Office.
“For me, the tough part is leaving a job that I love,” he said.
But, all the support he’s gotten from that day onward is helping.
“There’s not a name I could put on it,” Erickson said, fighting tears. “I had over a hundred cars come to help me. I’ve had people supporting me afterward. It’s good.”
The suspect in this shooting, Michael Congdon, is due back in court Friday morning for a pre-preliminary hearing.