The 88-year-old man killed in an apparent burglary attempt last week was a beloved San Diego veterinarian who had cared for family pets for decades.
Police identified the victim on Sunday as Clark Kelly, who was a veterinarian at the Boulevard Animal Clinic on El Cajon Boulevard in the Rolando area.
Kelly was “just the nicest, sweetest vet you could ask for,” said Susan Hopps-Tatum, whose family had brought pets to Kelly for more than three decades.
Customers have said Kelly’s clinic is a small family business and a community staple that has served generations of family pets.
Those who knew Kelly created a memorial of handwritten notes, flowers and photos of their pets on the chain-link fence that surrounded the single-story clinic. One note read, “Thank you for your care and kindness to generations of pets,” and another read, “You were a special beacon to our community.”
Kelly was gentle and friendly, and he had a way with animals where he could put nervous animals at ease, Hopps-Tatum said.
Kelly was the kind of vet who remembered your pets’ names and called you back himself if you had a question, said Lydia Krasner and her daughter Eliana Krasner, whose family took their six Boxers and five cats to Kelly over 30 years.
The Krasner family said they were shocked to learn that Kelly had been killed.
“I just think it was an insane act and the community will really miss him because he was an incredible man,” Lydia Krasner said.
Homicide Lt. Steve Shebloski said Kelly called police Wednesday afternoon to say he believed someone had broken into his clinic. Investigators believe Kelly had an altercation with the intruder and suffered multiple injuries, including a head injury. Kelly died after being taken to a nearby hospital.
A concerned citizen had detained a man outside the clinic before police arrived. Patrick O’Brien, a 37-year-old San Diego resident, was arrested on suspicion of murder and is being held without bond in the county jail.