Danville father, doctor was going to ask for directions when man fatally shot him in front of his son, family says

Local News

The Latest (July 7, 8:15 p.m.):

The Sierra County Sheriff’s Office has identified the suspect in the shootings as 40-year-old John Thomas Conway, from Oroville.

After officers shot at Conway and a K-9 was used to stop him, he was transported to an area hospital.


Original story below:

SIERRA COUNTY, Calif. (KTXL) — A trip to the Tahoe National Forest ended in tragedy for a Danville family.

“It’s an unbelievable nightmare. Like a bad movie,” said Marlo Meyers-Barer.

Meyers-Barer was still in disbelief Tuesday that her beloved younger cousin, Ari Gershman, is gone.

“His whole world was his family,” Meyers-Barer told FOX40. “He was a doctor. He ran clinical trials for life-saving medications. His whole world is helping people.”

Gershman was off-roading with his 15-year-old son, Jack, on Friday in a remote area of northwestern Sierra County when a man pulled up behind them.

“They were going to ask him directions and he opened fire,” Meyers-Barer explained. “Who does that?”

The man is suspected of shooting and killing Gershman.

Jack took off running, traveling up a large hill just to get cell phone service to call 911.

But Meyers-Barer said it took officials roughly 30 hours to find him.

“He drank from a stream,” she said. “He said he heard the helicopter and he knew that they didn’t see him.”

Crews eventually tracked him down. He was safe and healthy.

The Sierra County Sheriff’s Office says shortly after they were able to find the suspect driving a utility terrain vehicle on Saddleback Road near Highway 49. He took off and tried to run over two wildlife officers before crashing.

Officers caught up with him and fired at him before deploying a K-9 and taking him into custody.

They believe the man shot two other people at random in the area the same day. Both are expected to survive.

“Random, random psycho that thinks shooting people is a good time,” Meyers-Barer said.

Meyers-Barer said she is now focused on supporting her cousins in any way she can and started a GoFundMe to help with funeral and counseling expenses.

Gershman’s wife, Paige, was already going through a tough time after being diagnosed with cancer less than two months ago.

“That was unbelievable in itself and then this?” Meyers-Barer said.

Meyers-Barer said she is hoping people can honor her cousin’s memory by spreading love like he did.

“Be kind. Be considerate of other people. Help other people,” she told FOX40.

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