She was a longtime nurse who “worked tirelessly and selflessly” according to her employer.
Police say they responded Thursday around 5:15 a.m. to a call of an assault at a bus stop near Union Station. “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,” according to LAPD.
Police and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority released photos of the suspect to officers in the area. About 90 minutes later, they found Bell, who is homeless, asleep near the scene, according to police. They say the attack was “without provocation and for no reason.” Bell was taken into custody. It is not clear if he has legal representation yet.
Los Angeles County offices are closed Monday due to the holiday.
The victim, Sandra Shells, 70, was taken to a nearby hospital and died of her injuries Sunday, according to police.
“Our hearts are heavy,” LA County+USC Medical Center said, grieving the death of its longtime nurse. “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.
“Sandra worked tirelessly and selflessly to keep her patients safe and healthy and will always be remembered as a ‘kind, compassionate and giving nurse,’ with a ‘helpful and thoughtful nature’ who was a favorite amongst colleagues and patients,” the statement continued. “There will never be enough words to express our gratitude for her tremendous work and dedication.”
Praise for Shells came from the wider community as news of the attack spread.
“As a frontline essential worker, she helped save countless lives throughout the pandemic and it is a heartbreaking loss to lose a hero,” LA County Supervisor and Chair of the Metro Los Angeles Board of Directors Hilda Solis eulogized on Twitter Sunday.
“I will push for an enhanced safety plan for riders and staff so we can prevent tragic incidents like this from happening again. I send my condolences to her family and the entire LAC+USC Medical Center community,” she added.