California authorities have formally charged a man with murdering a Danville doctor who was hiking with his son in a Sierra Nevada forest over the July 4th weekend. The doctor’s son was able to escape the alleged ambush by running through the woods for help.

Media outlets say that the doctor and his son were traveling in a Jeep near Downieville when they stopped at a fork in the road to look at a map. While they were stopped, the defendant reportedly approached them from behind. They noticed him and asked him for directions, but he allegedly pulled out a gun and started shooting at them. The doctor slammed his foot on the accelerator to try to escape, but a bullet struck him in the chest. He put the vehicle in park, and his son jumped out and ran into the woods. The doctor died at the scene. His son was rescued by sheriff’s deputies a day and a half later.

According to a statement released by the Sierra County District Attorney’s Office, the defendant has been charged with murder, attempted murder, unlawful discharge of a firearm at an occupied vehicle, being a felon in possession of a firearm and burglarizing a gold mine. He has been additionally charged with murder from a motor vehicle and intentional discharge of a firearm with injury. Authorities have not yet given a motive for the shooting.

Defendants charged with violent crimes might help their situation by exercising their right to remain silent and contacting a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorney could assess the case and recommend the best course of legal action. One strategy might be to fight the allegations in court. Another strategy might be to negotiate a plea deal that reduces the charges in exchange for the defendant’s guilty plea.