Homeless Man Charged in Death of Nurse Attacked at Downtown LA Bus Stop

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
January 18, 2022 Updated: January 19, 2022

LOS ANGELES—A homeless man was charged with murder on Jan. 18 for allegedly punching a 70-year-old nurse in an unprovoked attack at a downtown bus stop, causing her to fall down and strike her head on the pavement.

Kerry Bell, 48, was arrested a short time after the Jan. 13 attack on Sandra Shells, who died Sunday at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center, where she worked as a nurse for nearly four decades.

Bell was expected to be arraigned on the murder charge Jan. 18 in downtown Los Angeles, according to the District Attorney’s Office.

He is accused of attacking Shells for unknown reasons at 5:15 p.m. on Jan. 13 at a bus stop at Vignes Street and Cesar Chavez Avenue, near Union Station. Shells was waiting to catch a bus to her job at Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center.

The attack renewed calls for increased safety on the Metro transit system, while also reigniting concerns from some people about the dangers presented by the region’s ever-growing homeless population.

Shells worked at LAC-USC Medical Center for 38 years. In a statement released following her death Jan. 16, hospital officials said she will “forever be remembered for her compassionate care and unmatched dedication to her patients and her community.”

“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 hospital said. “There will never be enough words to express our gratitude for her tremendous work and dedication.”

In statements on Jan. 17, Metro officials vowed to take steps to bolster safety on the transit system.

“As chair of the Metro Board of Directors, 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,” County Supervisor Hilda Solis said. “I send my condolences to her family and the entire LAC+USC community.”

Stephanie Wiggins, Metro CEO, said in a statement that she was “devastated” to learn of Shells’ death.

“This tragic and random act of violence makes us even more determined to maintain our vigilance around safety on our system and we will continue to work with the community and our partners to identify long-term public safety measures,” she said.

Metro officials urged the public and transit riders to report any suspicious or criminal activity on the system through the Metro Transit Watch app, or by calling 888-950-SAFE (7233), or texting 213-788-2777. For emergencies, people should call 911, officials said.