Authorities have made public the name and arrest record of the suspect believed to have fatally shot a Bay Area doctor and father of three, in addition to randomly shooting two other people in Sierra County last Friday. And the suspect is reportedly recovering from a gunshot wound in a Chico hospital.
40-year-old John Thomas Conway of Honcut — a rural town 18 miles northeast of Yuba City, and about 60 miles west of the area where the shootings took place — was arrested Saturday for the shooting death of Dr. Ari Gershman. The Danville doctor was driving a new Jeep on a popular off-roading trail near the Gold Rush ghost town of Poker Flat with his 15-year-old son on Friday, July 3, when he stopped to ask directions. According to the son's account, Conway opened fire on Gershman for no apparent reason.
An account from a family member said that Gershman stepped on the gas and got the vehicle far enough away for his son to escape into the woods, but Gershman died at the scene of a gunshot wound.
As the Chronicle reports, Conway was released from prison on April 20 and was wanted on two felony warrants as of June for violating his probation — and failing to meet with a probation officer. Conway, whom prosecutors have said is "off somewhat" and a court-appointed psychologist has confirmed he suffers from some undefined mental illness, was previously charged with driving his car through a fence gate during a domestic dispute with family members in March 2019. And in January 2020 he was charged with stealing a man's ATV in Butte County, to which he pleaded no contest and for which he served four months in jail.
Butte County DA Mike Ramsey tells the Chronicle that "None of [Conway's] crimes previously involved weapons," though in the March 2019 case family members noted that Conway had access to weapons.
Ramsay is planning to file charges against Conway of being a felon in possession of ammunition, and holding Conway in custody indefinitely as Sierra County prosecutors prepare murder charges.
It remains unclear, due to a lack of details released by the Butte County Sheriff's Office, when and how Conway was shot, or if he was shot by a sheriff's deputy during his Saturday arrest. Authorities have only said that Conway was transported by helicopter to Chico with a gunshot wound.