Piercing the sense of security at Newport Beach's cherished medical center, an elderly man fired six to seven rounds in a doctor's office Monday afternoon, leaving a prominent urologist dead.
Dr. Ronald Gilbert, who practiced in the Hoag Hospital-affiliated complex at 520 Superior Ave., perished in the gunfire. The 52-year-old Huntington Harbour resident was married, with two children.
Stanwood Elkus, 75, of Lake Elsinore, shot Gilbert multiple times in the torso at about 2:45 p.m. in Gilbert's second-floor examination room, Newport Beach police said. He allegedly remained with the body for about seven minutes until police arrived.
"He was inside that room, and he was just sort of waiting there," Newport police spokeswoman Kathy Lowe said.
Gun deaths are rare in Newport Beach and the news reverberated through the cluster of medical buildings on Superior's well-traveled incline. Many residents seemed to know Gilbert, his associates or others who practice medicine in and around Hoag.
"I am terrified," said Kristin Crotty, who works on the third floor directly above Suite 240, where Gilbert and his partners operated a private practice. "I just want to get home to my family right now."
Inside, some workers locked their doors and hid. Others kept working, unaware of the shooting until they saw news reports on TVs in their offices or patients called to say police tape was keeping them from their appointments.
Many employees said they didn't hear the shooting or didn't identify the sound as gunshots.
"I blew it off as construction," Crotty said, explaining she thought it was a nail gun until she called building services and was told to lock the door because of a possible shooter in the building.
Some workers in the medical building craned against the windows, looking down at police leading Elkus, who was wearing a baseball cap, calmly out in handcuffs.
On Tuesday morning, the only indication of Monday's shooting was a white computer printout reading, "This office is closed today" on the office door to Orange Coast Urology.
Police believe Elkus may be a patient at the practice, Lowe said, and neighbors in Riverside told the Press-Enterprise newspaper that he had complained of prostate problems.
Officials searched his Lake Elsinore home Monday evening and took some items as evidence, she added.
Gilbert was on staff at Hoag for nearly 20 years. He joined Nov. 2, 1993, and served as chairman of the Urology Department between October 1998 and September 2002, according to a statement released Tuesday morning.
"Dr. Gilbert dedicated his career to serving others," Hoag President and Chief Executive Richard Afable said. "He was admired, respected and beloved by the Hoag family and will be deeply missed."
Gilbert received his medical degree from UC Irvine in 1987, according to his online biography. He was the chief technology officer of Absorption Pharmaceuticals, which sells a topical spray intended to prevent premature ejaculation.
At Orange Coast Urology, Gilbert specialized in general urology, sexual dysfunction and related surgeries, according to the practice's website.
"He was a very highly regarded physician, not only professionally but also personally, and has been quite the servant of this community," Afable said. "The evidence of that was his success as a practitioner."
Employees wearing scrubs or white lab coats huddled outside late Monday afternoon, unable to reenter the building after the shooting.
Others exited the building later in the evening, saying they went about their work as police investigated on the second floor.