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Suspect charged with murder of doctor in Newport Beach hospital

January 30, 2013 12:00:00 AM PST
A Lake Elsinore man was charged Wednesday in the fatal shooting of a doctor at a hospital in Newport Beach.

Stanwood Fred Elkus, 75, was charged with one felony count of special circumstances murder by lying in wait and a sentencing enhancement for personal use a firearm causing death.

Prosecutors say Elkus brought a gun to his appointment at the Hoag Health Center with 52-year-old Dr. Ronald Gilbert Monday afternoon, waited in Gilbert's office, then shot him multiple times in the upper torso. Gilbert died at the scene. Elkus was arrested without a struggle in the same room.

"He entered the office, was shown to a room. He waited there. Dr. Gilbert came in to examine him and at that point the defendant shot him multiple times. Other doctors immediately ran in, attempted to render aid to him, but it was far too late," said prosecutor Matt Murphy.

Prosecutors allege Elkus then handed the gun to other medical staff and waited there for police to arrest him.

"It would be kind of speculative to talk about what Mr. Elkus's problem was or what his motive may have been," said Murphy. "All we know for sure is that Dr. Gilbert didn't do anything to deserve this."

Elkus appeared in court to be arraigned Wednesday, but the arraignment was rescheduled for March 1. He was held without bail. If convicted, Elkus faces a minimum sentence of life in prison without parole.

In Lake Elsinore, where Elkus lived for 20 years, detectives are interviewing neighbors and friends to try to piece together what led up to the shooting.

"He said he had prostate problems and had gone in for surgery over the last two years or so," said neighbor James Lord.

Lord says on the day before the shooting, he helped fix Elkus's brake pedal. Elkus wanted to pay him and give him a tool.

"When I think back now and he made me take the money and the tool and said he might not be around much longer, maybe that was the warning sign," said Lord. "I don't know."

Newport Beach Police spokesperson Kathy Lowe said Tuesday Elkus was cooperating with investigators. Lowe said officers searched Elkus's home late Monday night and found new evidence that might help uncover a motive.

Anyone with information regarding the case was asked to contact the Newport Beach Police Department at (800) 550-NBPD.


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