An Oroville man accused of fatally shooting a Danville doctor during the Fourth of July weekend has formally been charged with murder, according to the Sierra County District Attorney’s Office.
Officially filed in a complaint to the Sierra County Superior Court on Monday, prosecutors have charged 40-year-old John Thomas Conway with a slew of charges including murder, attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer.
Conway has also been charged with burglary, robbery, unlawful discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
Sierra County Sheriff's Office deputies and other regional officers arrested Conway on July 4, one day after they allege he shot Dr. Ari Gershman to death while the Danville doctor was four-wheeling with his 15-year-old son, Jack, in the Tahoe National Forest.
The sheriff's office alleges Conway also shot two other strangers nearby that afternoon, July 3. Those victims sustained non-life-threatening injuries.
Sierra County Sheriff Mike Fisher described the situation as an apparent "random act of violence." Conway allegedly opened fire on the father and son after they came into contact with him on a rural road.
Dr. Gershman, a pulmonary doctor and married father of three from Danville, died at the scene. Jack Gershman was able to escape unharmed by running into the wilderness, and the teenager survived for more than 30 hours alone before being located rescued by law enforcement officers and a tracking K-9 unit.
Prior to the July 3 shootings, Conway had a warrant out for his arrest, according to Butte County District Attorney Mike Ramsey, who added that police had been on the lookout for the defendant after allegedly violating his parole.
"He had two cases he was previously convicted on here and was on what we call mandatory supervision, which is like an enhanced probation, and had violated that probation and there was a warrant out for his arrest," Ramsey said.
Conway had two previous convictions in Butte County, the first in March 2019 involved a battery of a family member and felony vandalism that occurred when he drove his truck through his "family's gate," according to Ramsey.
He then allegedly violated his probation for the first time in January with a new offense involving the theft of an ATV (all-terrain vehicle) in what Ramsey said was "much the same style that he did involved in the shooting case as it is alleged." Ramsey added that Conway then violated his probation again when he failed to report to his probation officer, and officers found ammunition in his home when conducting a search of the premises.
Dr. Gershman's slaying while on a trip in rural Sierra County has sent shockwaves through his hometown of Danville while grabbing headlines across the country.
A virtual lawn luminary vigil was held for Dr. Gershman on Monday night, that consisted of participants decorating bag with battery-operated tea lights, notes and photos, that were then placed on his family’s Danville home. In an effort to not risk the spread of the coronavirus amid the pandemic, participants were asked to leave the premises after dropping off their bag and checking back on social media to see photos of the vigil.
Anyone with information about the case can contact sheriff's officials in Sierra County at 530-289-3700.