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Residents Frightened Following Vicious Attack On Healthcare Worker At Metro Bus Station

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) — Following an unprompted assault that on a healthcare worker that occurred at a Metro Bus Stop near Union Station, residents across the Southland have admitted to feeling uncomfortable using public transportation in the city.

An emergency room nurse headed to a shift at County-USC Medical Center was taken to her place of work for a very different reason on Thursday, when she was approached by a transient at the bus stop located at the southeast corner of Cesar Chavez and Vignes Street. The man slapped the nurse, causing her to fall backwards and hit her head on the concrete.

The nurse, 70-years-old, whose identity was withheld on Thursday due to family concerns, underwent surgery where she is said to remain in critical condition.

On Friday, family of the woman authorized County-USC officials to disclose the woman's identity, Sandra Shells, and her status, which remains critical.

"I never thought that this would happen to her, it's really heartbreaking for all of us," said one of the woman's coworkers.

Several of the woman's colleagues spoke with CBS reporters on Thursday evening and they are besides themselves, noting that the woman is lovely and caring, always going above and beyond for her patients and associates alike.

"The person that did this to her is one of the people she takes care of - the homeless population," said one coworker. "I just saw her yesterday and was telling her to be safe going home," she noted.

According to some within County-USC this isn't the first time that one of their own has been attacked, noting that several others have been attacked both in and around their hospital. One County-USC employee disclosed that this incident has initiated serious thoughts of life after work, "I'm ready to leave. Considering retiring early," she said.

As the story continues to make waves throughout Los Angeles, many Angelenos are quick to disclose their concerns, not just in regards to public transportation, but in feeling safe in the city.

"Oh it scares me so much, I really don't want these things to happen to me, especially, I'm also an old lady," said Cayet Belington, a frequent user of the Metro buses. That sentiment is shared by Melissa Perez, who has already taken her safeguards to another level, should a similar situation arise, "I take certain precautions, we need to. In my purse right now - I do carry a little switch blade with me, pepper spray, little things like that."

As crime rates continue to rise in the county, the woman's coworkers were unsurprised to hear that the suspect has multiple incidences of violent offense.

Despite a quick arrest on Thursday, they still want to make it clear what healthcare workers are really up against in recent months, especially with the strain of the pandemic already making things more difficult than ever before.

However, their primary concern is still the well-being of their friend, "We hope that she comes through and everyone will be okay."

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