Dr. Gilbert, R.I.P.
Dr. Gilbert, R.I.P.

[UPDATED with Elkus Asks for Lawyer:] Dr. Ronald Franklin Gilbert Shot Dead; 75 y.o. Urology Patient Stanwood Fred Elkus Held

See Update Nos. 2-3 on page 2 with the DA's murder charges, more on the suspect's health, the doctor's treatment of him and the defendant's postponed arraignment this afternoon.

See Update No. 1 after the jump with the suspect's mugshot, health woes and more on the physician.

ORIGINAL POST, JAN. 29, 9:01 A.M.: An apparently disgruntled patient shot and killed his urologist in his Hoag Health Center office Monday afternoon, according to Newport Beach Police.

Dr. Ronald Franklin Gilbert, 53, was pronounced dead at the scene, and Stanwood Fred Elkus, 75, of Lake Elsinore, was arrested there on suspicion of homicide.

Police received a call around 2:45 p.m. Monday of multiple shots fired at the medical office at 250 Superior Ave., according to department spokeswoman Kathy Lowe, who added officers who entered the building immediately found Gilbert and Elkus in a second-floor office. The suspect was taken into custody without incident.

The doctor sustained multiple gunshot wounds to his upper torso, but while the multi-tenant medical office complex was filled with workers, patients and others at the time of the shooting, no one else was reported injured, Lowe said.

Television news broadcasts have identified Elkus as a former patient of Gilbert's at the Hoag-affiliated Orange Coast Urology.

According to Gilbert's online bio, the married father of two graduated from UCI College of Medicine in 1987 and has been a practicing physician and surgeon for 23 years. The state medical board indicates no disciplinary actions, malpractice judgments or settlements have been rendered against him.

One satisfied patient has already posted condolences on an online patients-rating-doctors website, where reviews are split about 50-50 between positive and negative. Critics complain of rudeness by the doctor and his staff.

Police believe they have the lone suspect and victim, but the investigation continues. Anyone with information is asked to contact the Newport Beach Police Department at 800.550.NBPD or Detective Brad Miller at 949.644.3762. Tips can be left anonymously.

Starwood Fred Elkus, suspected killer
Starwood Fred Elkus, suspected killer
Courtesy of Orange County Sheriff's Dept.

UPDATE NO. 1, JAN. 29, 4:49 P.M.: Suspected murderer Stanwood Fred Elkus is currently being held in lieu of $1 million bail in the shooting death of urologist Dr. Ronald Franklin Gilbert, who was to turn 53 on Wednesday.

Police detectives reportedly searched the 75-year-old barber's Lake Elsinore mobile home last night and took out items in bags.

Nearby, an Orange County Register reporter talked with neighbor James Lord, 54, who said Elkus frequently complained of health issues related to prostate problems. After Lord helped Elkus work on his motor home Sunday night, the elderly neighbor handed over $10 and a pair of wire cutters, reportedly explaining, "I might not be alive much longer." Lord is said to have taken that as Elkus being his usual pessimistic self, telling the paper, "I wish I could have seen the signs of it."

Richard Afable, president and CEO of Hoag Memorial Hospital, where the murdered physician worked for 20 years and had previously been chief of the urology department, issued a statement saying, "Dr. Gilbert dedicated his career to serving others."

UPDATE NO. 2, JAN. 30, 11:02 A.M.: Stanwood Elkus has been charged with felony special circumstances murder by lying in wait with a sentencing enhancement for the personal use of a firearm causing death, and the 75-year-old faces up to life in state prison without parole with a conviction, according to the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA).

Dr. Gilbert in his office.
Dr. Gilbert in his office.

The Lake Elsinore resident, who is currently being held on $1 million bail, is scheduled to be arraigned some time today in Santa Ana.

An OCDA arraignment statement alleges Elkus had an appointment with Dr. Ronald Gilbert and pulled the gun when the physician entered the examination room. Other doctors in the building rushed to Gilbert's aid in an unsuccessful bid to revive him from multiple gunshot wounds to the upper torso. Elkus, meanwhile, is accused of handing the gun to a medical staff member and surrendering to police without incident.

The case has drawn Senior Deputy District Attorney Matt Murphy, a veteran Orange County homicide prosecutor who seldom loses.

The DA's statement confirms something that was not clear in initial reports that were fuzzy on whether there was a doctor-patient relationship between the departed and the accused. The Associated Press has since confirmed through a Gilbert office worker that Elkus was a longtime patient of the urologist.

The news service also quotes Elkus' neighbors in Lake Elsinore, where he was described as a nice but pessimistic guy, saying he'd had two prostate surgeries, felt they left him worse off than before, continued to struggle with incontinence and even informed one friend he'd had enough of doctors.

Richard Afable, the Hoag Memorial Hospital president and CEO, had previously issued a statement praising the healing done by Gilbert, who'd worked with the medical center-affiliated Orange Coast Urology Group since 1993 and specialized in general urology, sexual dysfunction and related surgical techniques, including vasectomies, bladder and prostate cancer. One focus involved using a laser to vaporize prostate tissue blocking the urinary tract.

After initial reports by the Weekly and others noted unsatisfied critiques posted online by Gilbert patients, Afable released a second statement that read, in part, "We have not received any complaints about Dr. Gilbert's care. He was, again, a very highly competent and a well-respected physician here. There are many people who are grieving."

Married, the father of two and an Orthodox Jew, the Huntington Beach man had been a stockbroker and singer in a rock band before following his father's footsteps into medicine.

UPDATE NO. 3, JAN. 30, 5:31 P.M.: Orange County Superior Court Judge Craig Robinson postponed the arraignment of Stanwood Elkus this afternoon until March 5 after the murder defendant loudly asked for a public defender.

Robinson ordered that Elkus, who says he can't afford an attorney, be held without bail pending that hearing, where a plea will presumably be entered.

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