James Gebhard’s devotion to his alma mater may have cost him his life.
Gebhard, 22, died Monday after being stabbed Friday night during a fight outside the Arby’s restaurant in downtown Spokane, police said.
A witness told police Gebhard got into a scuffle with two men about 11 p.m. after one of them had yelled a derogatory comment about Shadle Park High School.
One of Gebhard’s attackers apparently had a knife and stabbed him at least once, police said. Gebhard was taken to Sacred Heart Medical Center, where he died about 8:20 p.m. Monday.
Gebhard was a 1992 graduate of Shadle Park, where he was an “elite wrestler,” said JuJu Predisik, senior class counselor.
“Wrestling was his love. His family was pretty much tied to Shadle, and so was he,” said Predisik, who called Gebhard “just a great kid.”
The two men seen fighting with Gebhard are still on the loose. They are believed to be in their late 20s.
One was described as Asian, the other as white or Hispanic. The pair left the scene in a white two-door car thought to be a late-model Nissan or Subaru.
The victim’s father said police think Gebhard’s assailants knew him.
His son was not wearing a letter jacket or anything else Friday night that would have marked him as a Shadle Park graduate, Loren Gebhard said Tuesday.
Gebhard said the attack illustrates how violent the community has become.
People used to get into fistfights after trading insults, Gebhard said. Now they wield knives and guns.
“It’s just a tragedy. It has to stop,” said Gebhard, who praised Sacred Heart doctors and nurses for doing all they could to save his son’s life.
James Gebhard had a juvenile record, including convictions for burglary and being a minor in possession of alcohol, according to court records.
But he had stayed out of trouble recently and was working as a partner in the family’s printing press repair business.
“He got into some typical teenage stuff, but he was totally, completely turned around,” Loren Gebhard said. “He had his whole future ahead of him.”
A memorial service will be held at 10:30 a.m. Friday at Ball and Dodd Funeral Home, 5100 W. Wellesley.