For 38 years, Sandra Shells cared for patients at LAC+USC Medical Center, and she was on her way to do just that shortly after 5 a.m. on Jan. 13, waiting for the bus near the corner of Cesar E Chavez Avenue and Vignes Street.
That's when Shells became the victim of a random attack. She was struck in the face, causing her to fall to the ground and fracture her skull. She succumbed to her injures on Sunday, according to officials.
"Sandy was a very hard worker. Very private person, stayed to herself but she was always working. I think her whole job, her whole life, was just helping other people," said Liz Anderson, one of Shells' close neighbors. "Her personality would effect anybody. A very caring person that just loved everybody, and I know that this community will really, she's just going to be missed."
"It's sad. It's sad to hear. Getting ready to retire and this is what happens," added Tony Mena, another neighbor.
RELATED: Nurse dies days after being assaulted by man at downtown Los Angeles bus stop
About an hour and a half after the unprovoked attack, Los Angeles police arrested Kerry Bell in connection with the deadly assault. He was found sleeping a short distance from the bus stop where the attack took place, officials say.
Bell is homeless and has one prior arrest in Los Angeles, and multiple prior arrests in several other states, authorities say.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore tweeted:
"A tragic and senseless murder directly tied to the failure of this Nation's mental health resources. We can and must do better. This victim lived her life for others. We are falling short."
"I just think that there's a lot of people that are out there on the streets that are homeless that really need help. They need to be seen and evaluated," said Anderson.
The hospital where Shells worked 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. 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. There will never be enough words to express our gratitude for her tremendous work and dedication."
"She has a lemon tree in the back. She would give people lemons. Just a very mild-mannered, easy-going, nice person," added Anderson. "You couldn't meet anybody nicer than Sandy. When I think about it, it just breaks my heart. I'm having a hard time with this."
Los Angeles County Supervisor Kathryn Barger has called for a full investigation into this attack and Supervisor Hilda Solis, who chairs L.A. Metro's Board of Directors, is pushing for an enhanced safety plan for riders and staff.