Officer hailed as a hero
He apprehended suspect in doctor's shooting during robbery
By ALLAN TURNER
HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Oct. 31, 2009, 7:31AM


Dr. Stephanie Wuest, 28, was listed in stable condition with a gunshot wound.


A moonlighting deputy constable was hailed for cool competence Friday for his apprehension of an armed career criminal, who minutes earlier, authorities said, seriously wounded a young doctor during a robbery in a supermarket parking lot.

Injured in the 6:35 p.m. Thursday incident at the Kroger at 1990 Old Spanish Trail was Dr. Stephanie Wuest, 28. Wuest, a first-year Baylor College of Medicine resident who had been assigned to Ben Taub General Hospital, was shot in the neck. She was in stable condition at Taub on Friday.

Her alleged assailant, Anthony J. Bell, 40, was held without bail Friday on a charge of attempted capital murder. Records indicate Bell has a record of criminal convictions dating to 1989. He was released from state prison last year after serving a 15-year sentence for car theft. He also served sentences for drug offenses.

Investigators said Wuest was accosted as she returned to her car after shopping for groceries. As she and the robber struggled near the car door, several shots were fired.

Witnesses ran into the store to alert Precinct 6 Deputy Constable Vernon Matthews, who was working his off-duty job as a security guard. Directed to the scene of the crime by shoppers, Matthews drew his service revolver and ordered Bell to surrender.

“He did an outstanding job,” said Matthews' boss, Constable Victor Trevino. “We train for these situations, but no one knows how you're going to react.”

Trevino said Matthews, a former public school teacher, has worked with his office in some capacity for 16 years. He has been a full-time deputy for four years. He could not be reached for comment Friday.
Family optimistic

Speaking through family friend Shara Fryer, Wuest's relatives also congratulated the officer for his quick response. Wuest is the daughter of World Affairs Council of Houston executive director Linda Wuest and the wife of Dr. Matthew Rose, who is a Baylor College of Medicine radiology resident.

Although Wuest initially was reported to have been in critical condition, by mid*afternoon Friday her condition was listed as stable. She was conscious and responding to visitors. Fryer said her family was “relieved and optimistic.”

Fryer described Wuest as “young, vibrant, caring, warm, professional and strong.”

“She is filled with young people's sense of life, a desire to contribute,” Fryer said. Wuest chose family practice — the front line of medicine — because she felt it too often was bypassed for more glamorous specialties.

“She believes that medical care should be affordable and available to everyone,” Fryer said. Last summer, Wuest traveled to Guatemala and Peru to sharpen her Spanish-language skills.

Wuest graduated with high honors from Baylor College of Medicine before returning to begin her residency.

allan.turner@chron.com