Saturday, April 5, 2008

RIP Dr. Abbott

Such a tragedy. Life is too short and life will miss someone as gifted, talented and compassionate as Dr. Julie Abbott.

They say domestic disputes are a policeman's worst call.

Our prayers go out to her family.

Doctor gunned down in Stone Oak
Graeme Zielinski, Robert Crowe, Michelle Mondo and Melissa LudwigExpress-News

A popular San Antonio doctor was gunned down in the shadow of her practice Friday afternoon, and the man suspected of being the shooter then was shot by an officer who arrived at the scene not long after the initial gunfire, police said.

Julie Abbott, 47, a doctor of internal medicine who was said to be uncommonly beloved by patients and peers, was shot multiple times behind the offices of iMED Internal Medicine at 255 E. Sonterra Blvd. and was pronounced dead at University Hospital at 2:27 p.m.

The suspect underwent surgery and was in critical condition Friday night at University Hospital. He's believed to be the husband of one of Abbott's patients, though no motive was immediately apparent, police said.

Magistrate Court records show a man named Timothy McCloskey, 52, had been charged by proxy Friday with murder and attempted capital murder of a police officer/firefighter. A combined bond was set at $225,000.

Police spokesmen were not available late Friday to confirm that McCloskey was the suspect.
A call to a number listed under McCloskey's name was not answered.

A receptionist in a nearby building, who did not see the shooting, said a witness told her that a husband and wife had been fighting in the parking lot shortly before Abbott was shot, though police could not immediately confirm this.

Dr. Shailesh C. Kadakia, a gastrointestinal specialist who worked closely with Abbott for about five years, said he was told by some of Abbott's co-workers that she was shot while trying to intervene in a dispute between a husband and wife.
"I think she tried to find out what the problem was," Kadakia said. "She tried to intervene. This is so sad."

The officer who shot the suspect was Michael Blanquiz, a seven-year veteran who happened to be in the area near the time of the shooting, around 1:15 p.m., police said.

"As (Blanquiz) pulled up onto the scene, he saw the shooter standing over the victim," Police Chief William McManus said. "He got out of his car, took cover behind his door, ordered the suspect to drop his weapon. The suspect advanced on the officer and the officer fired multiple rounds, striking the suspect multiple times."

Michelle Arsate said her mother works in the medical office and called her to tell her one of the doctors had been shot.
"She got scared and hid," Arsate said of her mother. "For a while, I didn't know what was going on. I was worried that he was still in" there.

At the Abbott home in a North Side subdivision, The Forest at Stone Oak, friends and neighbors were stopping by Friday evening, bearing condolences for Ben Abbott, the victim's husband, who declined comment.

"He's devastated," said the couple's pastor, Robert Emmitt with the Community Bible Church.
Julie Abbott "lived her life for the Lord, her husband and others," Emmitt said from the couple's home. "And she gave her life the same way."

The couple were active with the church for 10 years, since they moved to the area, Emmitt said. So proficient a Bible study teacher was she, Emmitt said, that she remembered the page numbers to find specific Scripture.

Her friend and fellow church member Ann Wessner referred to the couple as blessed.
"Her greatest joy (was) her husband," Wessner said. "They met the first week at Texas Tech (University) and have been madly in love ever since."

The couple didn't have any children, but they both lavished attention on their cat, Bubba, Wessner said. Ben Abbott taught his wife how to fly-fish and they often went backpacking, Emmitt said.

Julie Abbott came from a large family, one of seven siblings, Emmitt said. One of her brothers is a missionary in Ethiopia, Wessner added, while her father recently retired as a professor in geology at Texas A&M University.

"They're just such a fantastic couple," Wessner said. "She was a true saint."

Chuck Miers, a pharmaceutical representative who said he had known Abbott for three years, said the physician, described as impeccably dressed, was well respected within the medical community, too.

"All patients will tell you that they love their doctors, but ... she was also loved by her peers," Miers said. "She had such a warm relationship with a lot of her peers. The doctors respected her and just loved her. She apparently was just a very jovial, fun person to be around."

Colleagues of Abbott, who was chief of the North Central Baptist Hospital's internal medicine department in 2006 and 2007, are devastated, he said.
"Her leadership was valued," said hospital spokeswoman Karen May. "She's going to be greatly missed."

Dr. Salvatore Barbaro, a cardiologist who had known Abbott for about five years and saw patients referred by her, said she was the rare internal care physician who followed up with patients at the hospital when they needed surgery.

"It's pretty incredible. She really cared," Barbaro said.

"The entire hospital is in shock right now. You've got nurses walking around, doctors walking around — they can't believe it. She was like the darling of the hospital," Barbaro said.

Billy Watson, an 84-year-old patient of Abbott's and a volunteer at the receptionist's desk at North Central Baptist Hospital, continued the description of her as a caring doctor.
Watson said she had had a heart attack and Abbott was there for her during her surgery.
"My son was so impressed with her, he changed doctors," she said.

"She was just a really nice doctor, knowledgeable, and she took time to talk to you," Watson said.
Officer Blanquiz, meanwhile, will be placed on administrative duty, which is standard procedure in all officer-involved shootings, an SAPD news release stated. Police will conduct the investigation and forward their findings to McManus and the Bexar County district attorney's office.

On a police call last year, Blanquiz was involved in the shooting of a man carrying a rifle at a North Side business, according to a 2007 SAPD news release on the incident.