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Friends, family find closure after arrests in bus stop murder

Police: 2 arrested in murder of Gary Bell, 62, gunned down on his way to work

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – It's been eight long months, but on Wednesday, friends of the man who was gunned down at a bus stop while on his way to work have just received the answers they've been praying for. Their loved one's suspected killers have been caught.

Police have arrested two people in the death of 62-year-old Gary Bell.

Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos ofArsenio James and Timothy Webster
Jacksonville Sheriff's Office booking photos ofArsenio James and Timothy Webster

Investigators said 26-year-old Arsenio James and 18-year-old Timothy Webster robbed and then killed Bell while he was sitting at a bus stop near Moncrief Road and West 35th Street.

Police are calling it a random shooting and robbery. Webster is charged with second-degree murder and tampering with evidence. James is charged with murder.

"Very perfect guy. Didn't bother anybody, never had a confrontation with nobody. Nothing, just a real good fellow," said a friend, who wanted to remain anonymous. 

Bell's former landlord was shocked when she learned Wednesday about the arrests. She said that Wednesday morning, she was talking to someone else about Bell's murder and how it still hadn't been solved.

"For me, it does bring closure," Gwen Nmezi said. "I appreciate knowing that someone was caught."

Nmezi said Bell was a very quiet man. She said that he was a hard worker and left early in the morning to go to work and came home late at night. She said his death is something that she hasn't forgotten.

"I was really upset, because I would never expect anything like that to happen to him," Nmezi said. "He never bothered anyone, so I was just totally shocked."

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff's Office, Bell's body was found on a sidewalk and DNA evidence inside Bell's pocket helped identify one of his killers. JSO said it was a "totally random" crime and called it "evil and heinous."

Gary Bell
Gary Bell

According to police, Webster said James asked him if he had ever seen anyone killed before. Police said James saw Bell (pictured below) at the bus stop, and Webster distracted him by asking Bell if he could use his cellphone. Bell handed him the phone, then James shot him and went through his pants pockets, taking whatever cash he had, police said.

"I really can't believe someone could do somebody like that. It's awful," Nmezi said. "These young people, I don't know what's wrong with them. They need to stay in school and try to get some education and do something better with themselves than going out trying to hurt people. That's really awful."

James was arrested in October on unrelated burglary and car theft charges. Webster was arrested and charged with murder Feb. 19 after tips to CrimeStoppers that produced $6,000 in rewards. 

News4Jax crime and safety analyst Gil Smith said the successful tips are evidence that residents should let authorities know when they have information about a crime, whether it's directly or anonymously.

"It's important to keep the neighborhood safe by doing that," Smith said. "The more people that call in to CrimeStoppers, the more crimes that are solved, and that tends to lower the crime rate, so it's real important to do that."

JSO did not disclose Webster's arrest in the murder case, because police were waiting on evidence that could connect James to Bell's death.

Police said they got that evidence last month when James' DNA came back as a match for DNA found in Bell's pants pockets. The DNA match was 408 trillion to 1, police said.

Police said Webster admitted he was there when Bell was killed but said it was James who shot Bell. Police said initially James denied knowing who Webster was, but a witness provided them with an Instagram post showing the two together.

James was charged with murder Tuesday.