Tollhouse man sentenced for shooting, seriously injuring a Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy

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Saturday, November 6, 2021
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More than two years after a Tollhouse man shot and seriously injured a Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy, a judge sentenced him to prison.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- More than two years after a Tollhouse man shot and seriously injured a Fresno County Sheriff's Deputy, a judge sentenced him to prison.

Coworkers from the Fresno County Sheriff's Office and other partner agencies were also in court, addressing the man who opened fire.

Former Deputy John Erickson chose not to speak in court, instead, he gave his close friend, and former coworker, a letter to read on his behalf as he and his family sat in the courtroom.

The defendant, Michael Congdon, sat quietly and faced the judge the entire time.

"Cowardly, an ambush, I never did anything to you," said Patrick Hanson, a Fresno County Sheriff's Office coworker and close friend of John Erickson, said as he read a letter written by Erickson to the court Friday. "Did I win? I don't know. I guess nobody wins. Sometimes, I think you won."

In his letter, Erickson told the shooter, Michael Congdon, he has forgiven him for what he did.

It was July of 2019 when Erickson responded with a civilian ride-along to a neighbor dispute in the mountain community of Tollhouse.

As they arrived, Congdon started firing at them.

Erickson was shot in the leg and center of his back.

Erickson said he still has a bullet lodged in his leg and bullet fragments in his face.

Because of his injuries, Erickson said he's no longer able to work as a deputy sheriff.

Former partners spoke in court and said it has been a loss for the agency and the area he served.

"He cared about the community, he grew up in that community," said Patrick Hanson with the Fresno County Sheriff's Office.

Nikolas Beer who works for the U.S. Forest Service and worked in partnership with Erickson for 5 years said, collectively, the agencies were able to work well together. "We had a team, that was stolen from us. I don't think we'll get it back."

Congdon did not speak, but his attorney read a portion of his letter to the court.

"I have spent every day thinking about my actions that day and just how many people I have truly hurt," said Fresno County Public Defender Scott Baly.

Congdon pleaded no contest to attempted murder, shooting at an occupied vehicle and animal cruelty for shooting a horse that was also on the property.

Each charge carried a special enhancement.

In total, Congdon was sentenced to 50 years, 8 months to life in prison, with the possibility of parole.

Following the sentencing, surrounded by his family, former Deputy Erickson said his anger has moved off of Congdon.

"I'm satisfied with everything and like I said, I wish him well. I don't wish any harm on him, on Congdon, I'm not upset with him. It is what it is." Erickson said. "I'm glad it's over, but I don't know what over is."

Erickson's family said it's been difficult to navigate life since it was changed so quickly on that day in 2019.

Erickson said more than anything, he'd love the opportunity to work with the Sheriff's Office again in some capacity.