FRESNO, California (KGPE) – A Fresno County man received an award Wednesday morning from the Fresno and Madera Police Chiefs’ Association for going above and beyond to help a Fresno County Sheriff’s deputy who was shot while responding to a call in July.
On Tuesday, July 2, Vince Sierras was on a ride-along with Deputy John Erickson. Sierras, who is studying criminology, had been on several ride alongs in the past but nothing would prepare him for what would happen that afternoon.
“There was a lot of adrenaline pumping through me because I have never been through anything like that in my life,” Sierras said.
That afternoon, Sierras and Erickson were responding to a call from a Tollhouse woman who said her neighbor was shooting at her house and water tank.
The two talked to the woman and were driving up a hill to a suspect when shots started pouring out.
“Unfortunately right as we got up the hillside,” Sierras said. “There was gunfire that started to erupt all over the place. “
Those bullets aimed at the windshield of the patrol car and the two inside. Sierras released just moments later something was wrong.
“My deputy had said ‘We have been shot at! We have been shot at! Shots fired,” Sierras said.
One of the bullets hit Erickson in the leg. He fell to the ground, no longer with any feeling in the lower half of his body.
“I knew he was in pain, I knew he had been shot,” Sierras said. “I knew I had to save Deputy Erickson. “
Erickson instructed Sierras to hold up his head as he kept a lookout for the suspect in case he kept shooting. Later he would drag Erickson to a safer location while help was on the way.
“He never faltered and he told me straight out ‘I am not going to leave you, you know I love you, I am not going to leave you,” Erickson said. “I am grateful. I don’t many people that could step up like he did.”
Erickson was taken to the hospital immediately. He continues to recover from his injuries from that unexpected afternoon in July. He copes by not trying to think about the incident, but Sierras says he hopes one day he and his best friend will be able to do a ride-along once again.
“I really do hope, he seems like he is doing OK, but I really hope that he does better because I would like to see him back out on patrol doing what he does best and I would like to be there with him,” Sierras said.