LA nurse dies after assault by homeless person at bus stop, police say

·2 min read
Police say a nurse was fatally assaulted at the Union Station bus stop in downtown Los Angeles (NBC Los Angeles)
Police say a nurse was fatally assaulted at the Union Station bus stop in downtown Los Angeles (NBC Los Angeles)

A Los Angeles nurse is dead after a homeless person randomly attacked her at a bus stop, police say.

Sandra Shells, 70, was waiting for a bus at downtown LA’s Union Station on Thursday when an assailant allegedly hit her in the face, knocking her to the ground. A witness to the attack called 911.

“Upon arrival, officers discovered that the suspect, later identified as Kerry Bell, had struck the victim in the face, causing her to fall to the ground and sustain a fractured skull,” the LAPD said in a statement. “Los Angeles Fire Department personnel responded to the scene and rushed the victim to a local hospital, where the victim received medical treatment for her injuries.”

About 90 minutes later, police arrested Mr Bell, who was reportedly asleep not far from the scene of the crime. Meanwhile, doctors worked to save Ms Shells, but she succumbed to her injuries two days later.

Police say the motive for the assault is unclear.

“Bell struck the victim without provocation and for no reason,” the LAPD said.

Ms Shells’ employer, the LA County + USC Medical Center, remembered her as a kind and hard-working nurse.

“Our hearts are heavy,” the hospital said in a statement. “Sandra Shells will forever be remembered for her compassionate care and unmatched dedication to her patients and her community throughout her 38-year career at LAC+USC … There will never be enough words to express our gratitude for her tremendous work and dedication.”

LA County Supervisor Kathryn Barger called for a “full investigation” into the incident that killed Ms Shells.

“It’s unacceptable for bus riders to be susceptible to this type of violence,” Ms Barger said on Twitter. “Our essential workers and the public at large deserve better.”

Hilda Solis, chair of the Metro Los Angeles Board of Directors, also mourned Ms Shells’ passing.

“As a frontline essential worker, she helped save countless lives throughout the pandemic and it is a heartbreaking loss to lose a hero,” Ms Solis tweeted. “I will continue to push for an enhanced safety plan for riders and staff so we can prevent tragic incidents like this from happening again.”

The LAPD urges anyone with information on the attack to call Central Bureau Homicide at (213) 996-4171, or 1-877-LAPD-24-7 during non-business hours. Tips can also be submitted anonymously at www.lacrimestoppers.org.

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