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Bay Area Teen Says Dad Was Shot And Killed Asking For Directions In Sierra County

DANVILLE, Calif. (AP) — A San Francisco Bay Area doctor who was on an off-roading trip with his 15-year-old son was shot and killed after he stopped to ask a man for directions, his son and other relatives said.

Dr. Ari Gershman, of Danville, was shot on the Fourth of July near Downieville, in rural Sierra County. Gershman and his son, Jack, had never been to the remote Tahoe National Forest and pulled over at a fork when John Thomas Conway, who was driving an ATV, pulled up behind their Jeep.

Jack Gershman says when they stopped to asked for directions his father was shot.

"My dad suggested that we ask him for directions," Jack told CBS News Thursday. "The shooter pulls out a pistol and starts shooting ... and then, after two or three shots, he was hit."

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The teenager said he ran from the car into the surrounding woods and got lost. When was finally able to call his mom, Paige, he barely had reception and his phone was running out of battery.

"I said, 'Where's Dad?' And he's like, 'He's been shot.' And I said, 'What do you — what do you even mean?'" Paige Gershman told CBS News.

Ari Gershman, 45, died at the scene and his son spent 30 hours alone and lost in the dense woods, drinking from a stream, wearing only shorts and a T-shirt. He was covered in bug bites and scratches when he was rescued, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.

The alleged gunman, John Thomas Conway, was arrested shortly after Jack was found, following a police chase on his ATV.

Ari Gershman. (credit: Gershman family)

Ari Gershman, an internal medicine doctor, bought the Jeep a day before the fatal shooting to share his love of the outdoors with his two sons and daughter. He had hoped to retire in the Downieville area, according to a GoFundMe fundraising account that had generated more than $450,000 as of Thursday afternoon.

It had already been a difficult year for the Gershman family. His wife, a speech and language therapist for the San Ramon Valley Unified School District, was diagnosed with Hodgkin's lymphoma six weeks ago and shaved her head last week, said a cousin, Marlo Meyers-Barer.

Police said they captured Conway, 40, of Oroville, after he tried to run through a checkpoint on an ATV. The Sierra County Sheriff's Office said Conway posed an unspecified threat, and at least one officer fired a weapon and a police dog was released.

Conway was taken to a hospital in Chico where he is recovering from a gunshot wound, the Chronicle reported.

Moments before shooting Ari Gershman, the man also allegedly shot and injured two other people nearby who survived, the office said.

Last year, the Butte County Sheriff's Office listed Conway as one of its Most Wanted fugitives as he had outstanding felony warrants for vandalism, battery and two counts of making terrorist threats. A judge held a mental competency hearing and the case was allowed to continue, according to court records.

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