Crime: How Not To Murder Your Wife

What with a money-stealing hit man, a botched shooting and his nosy receptionist, the Bala Cynwyd chiropractor awaiting trial in a Montco jail just couldn’t get a break


From his perch behind a hedge, the person who shot Sari Kushner in her car on a Friday night last May must have known almost immediately that things hadn’t gone as he had planned. Seconds after he fired over the bushes at Mrs. Kushner, who had just pulled into her Bala Cynwyd driveway, Mrs. Kushner gunned her Cadillac Escalade backward out of the driveway and sped away. If he’d hit her, he clearly hadn’t done much damage.

In fact, from the shooter’s perspective, the whole night had been a screw-up. First of all, Mrs. Kushner, a teacher in the Haverford school district, didn’t get home till 10:45 p.m. — she’d been out at the Art Museum with a friend, and then had to drop the friend off at her home in ­Wynnewood. Plus, it was raining, which made it almost impossible to see. The ­layout of the Kushner ­property — not far from Hymie’s and Murray’s — with its charming, generously sized old stone house, detached garage, and lots of trees, ivy and bushes, was like an obstacle course.

With the close-set houses and the quirky, tiny streets, where people are always taking out their trash and walking their dogs, it’s difficult to lurk undiscovered and get a clear shot in residential Bala Cynwyd. And as it turned out, the bullet didn’t end up where it was supposed to, which was apparently Mrs. Kushner’s head. In a freakish bit of good fortune for her (if one can find any good fortune in getting shot in one’s driveway), the teacher, 57, was reaching to pull the hood of her jacket up to shield her hair from the drizzle when the bullet entered her driver’s-side window and hit her in the wrist.

Mrs. Kushner had the presence of mind to flee a few blocks to the Union Fire Station, next to the old Tavern restaurant. Inside the stone firehouse, she waited for the police, protected by firemen and, within a few minutes, attended to by an ambulance and, soon after, detectives. While she was standing, terrified, in the firehouse’s surprisingly tasteful apricot-walled lounge, a bullet from a .40 caliber pistol fell out of her sleeve.
By that time, wet, frustrated and unsuccessful, the would-be assassin had packed up his pistol and fled from the bushes. Should have waited for a dry night.

The events surrounding the shooting must have left this one word hanging in Alan Kushner’s mind for months, even before he was arrested last October for attempting to murder his wife. Kushner, a chiropractor with a practice in Overbrook and a sideline as an expert witness in lumbar-injury disputes, saw himself as the victim of a totally unfair divorce battle. In fact, ever since he and his wife of 30 years had initiated divorce proceedings in 2005, things hadn’t been going Kushner’s way.

Pretty quickly after the May shooting of his wife’s wrist, Kushner became the chief suspect in her attempted murder, especially when police asked Sari Kushner that night at the fire station if anyone wanted her dead, and she immediately said, “My husband.”  But after Lower Merion detective Greg Henry questioned him the next day, May 17th, it seemed unlikely that the chiropractor had done the shooting himself. Kushner, slight, with thinning dark hair and brown eyes, had an alibi — he’d been out at the Olive Garden with his 92-year-old recently widowed father. The two left the Olive Garden at 8:26, as a ­credit-card receipt showed, and Kushner went home to his apartment at the Trianon, a building just around the corner from the Kushner house. That ­apartment — darn, again. Not that there’s anything wrong with the Trianon, it’s a very nice building, but being four minutes away by foot from his stately former home had to hurt. Anyway, the Trianon doorman and a garage attendant said Dr. Kushner got back at 9 p.m. and didn’t leave again — as far as they knew, since they couldn’t be absolutely sure he hadn’t gone out the back.