A young woman is recovering at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center from a brutal random attack by a stranger who was walking past her in broad daylight.
The attack happened last Monday in North Hollywood when 24-year-old Kyli Watts was walking on Lankershim Boulevard.
The suspect, identified as 30-year-old Jonathan Cole, allegedly plunged a pair of gardening shears with four-inch blades into the back of Watts’s head. Surveillance video showed it happened without provocation as they passed each other on the street.
Watts staggered to a nearby cafe for help, not fully realizing the gravity of the situation. She immediately called her mother, a psychiatric nurse in North Carolina.
Amy Watts, Kyli’s mother, told KTLA that while she is upset about what happened to her daughter, she has no hatred for her attacker.
“There is no ill regard toward this human, no anger, no bad feelings,” Amy Watts said. “We’ve been a foster family for 15 years taking care of some severely mentally ill individuals. She understands that this is a very sick person.”
As a psychiatric nurse, Amy has seen first-hand the toll that mental illness can have on a person.
She says what happened to her daughter was a “social and systemic failure” on behalf of the sick people who need the most help.
“This is a problem that we as a society have to look at and figure out what’s next,” Amy Watts said. “Because this is just going to continue to get worse.”
Kyli immediately went into surgery and has suffered a traumatic brain injury. She faces a challenging road to recovery both mentally and physically; she could face long-term issues with her balance and vision.
She is a recent transplant to Los Angeles, having worked as a recruiter for tech companies whose job it is to hire data scientists. She had only been in town for two weeks before the attack occurred.
The Watts family say they are well aware of the rising crimes committed against unsuspecting victims at the hands of people experiencing homelessness.
But Amy Watts is just grateful that her daughter is still alive and hopes more will be done to help those stuck on the streets and struggling with mental illness.
Friends and family have set up a GoFundMe account in Kyli’s name to raise money for her medical care. Any excess funds will be donated to mental health organizations, the family said.
Cole remains in custody where he faces possible charges for attempted murder and assault with a deadly weapon.