Man accused in stabbing sent for evaluation

Reports differ on men's interaction before attack at Cascade Park Starbucks

By Paris Achen, Columbian courts reporter

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The arraignment of a 55-year-old suspect in the stabbing of two people March 11 in a Starbucks coffee shop drive-thru in Vancouver's Cascade Park was postponed Friday because of concerns about his mental competency.

Judge Barbara Johnson ordered that Scott C. Fandrich, 55, of Ridgefield undergo a competency review to determine if he has the mental capacity to help with his defense. A review hearing will be May 3.

Fandrich is accused of following Jerry Kush, 70, out of the coffee shop and repeatedly stabbing him in the drive-thru at 11502 S.E. Mill Plain Blvd. Fandrich also allegedly stabbed Vancouver resident Jerry Nehnevaj, 49, in the right leg after Nehnevaj tried to stop the attack.

Jerry Kush was stabbed in nearly every organ except for his heart, but is recovering at his home in Battle Ground, said his wife, Sharon Kush.

"He is just a miracle," Sharon Kush told The Columbian in a Friday phone interview. "I am just watching him and saying, 'How can this be?'"

On the night of the attack, she said, she thought her husband would die. She called his grandchildren to his bedside at PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center to say their goodbyes.

Preparing his own soup this week was a major milestone in his recovery, she said.

A probable-cause affidavit issued by Vancouver police investigators indicated Fandrich attacked Jerry Kush after they had a conversation about religion.

Hamza A. Shariati, 21, told police that he met Fandrich at the coffee shop to discuss religion, according to the affidavit. During the conversation, Shariati said, Jerry Kush approached the table and chatted with them about religion and cars, the document states. Shariati also told police that Fandrich had spoken in the past about "his willingness to die for Islam."

Sharon Kush, however, said her husband and Fandrich did not talk about religion before the attack.

"It was just a random thing in broad daylight," she said.

Her husband and his two friends were seated at a different table from Fandrich and Shariati, she said.

One of the friends, Colleen, who declined to give her last name, said Jerry Kush was talking to her and the other friend about his car. Fandrich apparently overheard the conversation and asked Jerry Kush if he would take a look at a van, parked outside, which Fandrich said he was thinking about buying, Colleen said.

Jerry Kush initially declined, but finally agreed after Fandrich persisted in his request, Colleen said. After Jerry Kush looked under the van's hood, he attempted to leave, and Fandrich followed him. Jerry Kush asked Fandrich to stop following him, she said. That's when Fandrich attacked him, and Colleen called out for help, she said.

The attack happened at one of the busiest intersections in Clark County. Multiple passers-by helped stop the attack and detain the suspect, including a man who obtained a shovel and wielded it to persuade Fandrich to stay put until police arrived.

Sharon Kush said the community's support of the family has been a godsend.

Friends and neighbors have provided meals and showered Jerry Kush with well wishes on a Facebook page maintained by his daughter, she said.

"He's a fighter," Sharon Kush said. "I just thank God for the community and all those people who tried to jump in and help him. They're miracles, too."

Paris Achen: 360-735-4551; http://twitter.com/Col_Courts; http://facebook.com/ColTrends; paris.achen@columbian.com.