An elderly man from Lake Elsinore has been identified as the suspect in Monday's fatal shooting of a urologist in Newport Beach, police said Tuesday.
Stanwood Fred Elkus, a 75-year-old barber, was arrested shortly after the slaying inside a Hoag medical building, according to Newport Beach police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe. The victim was Dr. Ronald Gilbert of Huntington Beach, who would have celebrated his 53rd birthday on Wednesday, according to Orange County sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino. An autopsy is expected to be performed Tuesday, Amormino said.
Elkus was being held on $1 million bail and will make his first court appearance Wednesday, court records show.
The shooting was reported at 2:45 p.m. Monday on the second floor of the Hoag Medical Group building at 520 Superior Ave., Lowe said. A caller inside the building reported hearing six to seven shots.
Gilbert was allegedly gunned down by Elkus in an exam room.
When police arrived, Elkus and Gilbert were both still inside the office, and Elkus was taken into custody without incident, Lowe said.
Gilbert had been shot several times in the torso and was pronounced dead at the scene, Lowe said. No other injuries were reported.
Victim Remembered Fondly
Ehren Jacobs said he and Gilbert were friends since the fourth grade. He said the doctor made people feel like they were the most important person in the room.
"I lost a best friend yesterday but I know a lot of people feel the same way," Jacobs said. "That's just the kind of guy he was. Everyone loved him."
According to an online biography, Gilbert was a married father of two teenage boys. He is credited as the chief scientist behind Promescent, a spray-on product to prevent premature ejaculation.
A graduate of UCI Medical School, Gilbert once served as chief of Hoag Hospital's urology department and as an assistant clinical professor of urology at UCI.
"The Hoag Hospital family is devastated by the senseless act of violence against Dr. Ronald Gilbert," said Richard Afable, president and CEO of Hoag Hospital, in a statement issued Tuesday. "He was admired, respected and beloved by the Hoag family and will be deeply missed."
Gilbert joined Hoag’s staff in 1993 and served as the chair of the urology department from October 1998 to September 2002.
Newport Beach police were on scene throughout the night at Elkus' residence in the 15600 block of Laguna Avenue in Lake Elsinore, according to Deputy Albert Martinez of the Riverside County Sheriff's Department.
“Stan” Elkus was generally a friendly Lake Elsinore resident; he lived alone on Laguna Avenue and kept to himself, but he always waved and would stop to say hello, according to neighbors who gathered Tuesday on the street where Elkus lived.
The accused didn’t seem capable of killing, but he anguished over a prostate surgery that left him with embarrassing incontinence, the neighbors said.
Elkus complained the procedure made him worse, said Miguel Soto, 65.
“I recognized that he was very upset with the doctor. He thought maybe there should have been treatment before surgery. He was very embarrassed due to the incontinence,” Soto added.
“I don’t know when he had it [the surgery] or where his doctor was. Three or four weeks ago he said he was going back to the doctor," Soto said.
But there was no mention of retaliation toward anyone.
“This is a complete surprise; he was a nice person,” Soto said
James Lord, 54, a neighbor from across the street, said he knew the suspect well.
"He was a nice guy who never bothered anyone," he said. "He had some kind of prostate problem, but I don't know where his doctor was located."
Neighbor Rick Gower, 52, also knew Elkus as a friendly man who was often seen riding his bike to the grocery story. However, Elkus's prostate problems were often a topic of conversation.
"He talked about it a lot. He would always say, 'Don't ever get a prostate operation because it will screw your life up.'"
Gower, who watched police work the quiet Lake Elsinore home all night, said he didn't think Elkus was capable of killing.
"I don't think so," he said. "No."
Neighbor Bob Rodriguez, a retired senior, says he was shocked to learn about the shooting. Elkus was a quiet man, but he had been upset lately over an alleged home burglary in which several of his guns were stolen, Rodriguez said.
“That was usually part of our conversation,” Rodriquez recounted.
Few visitors came to see Elkus, although Rodriguez said “a young lady about Stan’s age” would stop by every now and again.
It’s unknown if Elkus has any family in the area.
--Toni McAllister and Daniel Lane contributed to this report.