Fifteen-year-old Jack Gershman survived more than 30 hours in the wilderness after hiding from a gunman who killed his father, Ari. Jack and Ari, 45, were off-roading near Downieville, California when they were attacked on July 3.
A GoFundMe describes Gershman: “He was witty and wise. He died doing what he loved with his son in an area he had hoped to retire in one day.”
Gershman and Jack had come to the Tahoe National Forest to off-road in the family’s new Jeep. The gunman approached the two and opened fire. When Gershman pulled the car over to park, Jack was able to run away from the gunman.
After the teen found safety in the forest, he called 911 and his mother, Paige. According to Gershman’s cousin, Marlo Meyers-Barer, “Jack’s phone went dead after he made these gut-wrenching videos for Paige about what he saw and how he’s so sorry.”
“Although the juvenile had fled a considerable distance, the officers were able to track and locate him,” according to a Sierra County Sheriff’s Office press release. “Even though the juvenile had fled the shooting and spent the night alone in the forest, he was in good physical condition and did not require medical attention. After giving him some food and water, officers transported him to the Sheriff’s Office, where he was reunited with his mother.”
The Deadly “Random Act of Violence”
After finding Jack, police encountered a suspect on his UTV and attempted to stop him.
“The suspect failed to stop and tried to run over the two wildlife officers and then fled south,” according to the release. “A vehicle collision ultimately occurred as officers were attempting to take the suspect into custody. The suspect immediately represented a threat to the officers, leading to an officer-involved shooting and deployment of a K-9.”
The suspect, now identified as 40-year-old John Thomas Conway, was taken into custody. Before Conway allegedly killed Gershman, police believe that he also shot two people in the Poker Flat area of northwestern Sierra County. According to the press release, police found no ties between the victims and Conway. They classified the incidents as “a random act of violence.”