Clarke County

Sister of man attacked with machete at Athens homeless shelter says he’ll lose eye, has broken skull

ATHENS, Ga. — A judge denied bond Saturday morning the suspect in the case of a machete attack outside an Athens homeless shelter.

Athens Police Department arrested Cedric Smith, 33, Thursday evening, minutes after the assault.

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Chris Sullens, a 53-year-old employee at the shelter and has been working with the homeless population for over a decade, is in the Intensive Care Unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta.

Sullens’ sister, Teresa Sullens-Baker, spoke exclusively with Channel 2′s Courtney Francisco to share her relief that Smith is staying behind bars.

She said her brother is off the ventilator, but he will likely lose at least one of his eyes. She said he has major cuts on his head and face, brain swelling and a broken skull.


Her brother was on the job at Advantage Homeless Day Service Center Thursday when police said Smith saw him in the parking lot and began beating him with a machete.

The next morning, co-workers and clients described jumping into action to save Sullens.

“They did it so fast,” said Sullens-Baker. “They all put their lives in danger to rush to him.”

Police said they arrested Smith in under 15 minutes.

Digging into court records, Smith’s criminal record in Athens dates back to 2013. That is when police said he pulled a knife on a woman on a sidewalk.

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He was charged with parole violations in 2014 and 2015 and in 2017, he cut someone’s neck with a razor blade, according to an arrest warrant. He served four years in prison for that offense; he was out on parole when the attack happened Thursday.

“Someone that violent should not be on the street, and that’s concerning,” said Sullens-Baker.

Saturday, a parole violation charge was added to the list of crimes he is accused of in this case.

She is finding comfort in friends, family, and strangers. They have all come together to donate thousands to help Sullens recover.

“He’s precious,” said Sullens-Baker. “Everybody at work loved him. As far as I know, a lot of people in the community, in the homeless community, loved him. I feel so overwhelmed right now. I want to thank every single person. I don’t even know how to start.”


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