Saskatoon mother searches for answers, arrests in son’s 2023 homicide


Hilda Bell says her son, 33-year-old Nicholas Bell, was shot and killed in a Meadowgreen alley during an attempted robbery on Dec. 14, 2023. There have been no arrests in his death.

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Nicholas Bell was known for dropping everything to help someone move or fix a vehicle, or to be there for a friend who lost a parent. His mom Hilda says his friends’ parents called him their favourite friend.

His passion was cooking, and watching cooking shows with his little sister. He used to work at a high-end steak house in Saskatoon, but returned to subcontracting work as a drywaller to earn more money.

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Hilda says her son was a law-abiding citizen with no criminal record when he was shot in the chest during what she’s been told was an attempted robbery in a Meadowgreen neighbourhood alley around 1 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2023.

He died eight hours later at Royal University Hospital. He was 33 years old.

There have been no arrests in connection with his death — Saskatoon’s 11th homicide of 2023.

Bell’s name has never been publicly released. Police say his family initially requested privacy; Hilda says she was never asked.

She wants people to know her son’s story, and that he’s not forgotten.

“He is still so very loved, cared for and adored, and missed more than words can say.”

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Nicholas Bell
Nicholas Bell was fatally shot in a Meadowgreen neighbourhood alley on Dec. 14, 2023. His family says he was a talented chef who was extremely close with his family. (Photo supplied by Hilda Bell)

The shooting

Hilda says the following information was provided by the man her son was with on the night he was killed. She says she went to talk to him after the shooting because police did not give her any information about what happened. Police have confirmed that the man was interviewed shortly after the shooting.

Bell met up with a former co-worker for after-work drinks at Bridges Ale House on 22nd Street West on Dec. 13, 2023. They left the bar and went back to the man’s house, about a five-minute walk away, to continue having drinks.

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They walked back to Bridges around 1 a.m. to buy a case of beer from the off-sale. On their way home, as they crossed Witney Avenue South into an alley behind the 2700 block of 21st Street at Montreal Avenue, a man approached them and demanded their beer.

Hilda says she was told her son “squared off” with the man and was shot. The man who was with her son said the shooter “nonchalantly” walked away with the beer. He said he covered Bell with his jacket, ran to his home two to three houses away, and asked his dad to call 911.

Staff Sgt. Corey Lenius with the Major Crimes unit says the 911 call came in at 1:33 a.m., and police were at the scene by 1:36 a.m.

Hilda has a folder filled with paperwork, the result of countless hours spent obtaining hospital, medical and paramedic records that could help form a clearer picture of what happened to her son.

According to her records, police called the paramedics at 1:35 a.m. An ambulance arrived five minutes later.

Hilda says her records show that other than a chest seal applied to the gunshot wound, Bell did not receive medical care for approximately 30 to 35 minutes after he was shot.

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Bell shooting site
The 21st Street West alley where Nicholas Bell was shot in the chest around 1 a.m. on Dec. 14, 2023. Photo by Bre McAdam /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

“I don’t know the details of how the call came in. I really can’t answer to what occurred for this call,” Lenius said, adding police will often arrive before paramedics to clear the scene when a call involves guns.

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Medical records show Bell was admitted to RUH at 1:54 a.m. He died at 9:10 a.m. The doctor told Hilda that he needed a “massive” blood transfusion because of excessive blood loss, and didn’t make it through the second surgery because he kept going into cardiac arrest.

The aftermath

For more than 10 hours, Hilda says her family had no idea he had been shot, was hospitalized and had died until an officer came to their house at 12:30 p.m. on Dec. 14, 2023.

“He didn’t deserve to be all alone, going through two major surgeries that night. He deserved to be surrounded by loved ones, family. Nicholas was always there for people,” she says.

“We deserved to know what was going on that night.”

Lenius says police couldn’t “absolutely confirm” Bell’s identity until forensic identification officers obtained fingerprints, which didn’t happen until after he died.

“We don’t want to go to a family’s home and not be 100 per cent sure that the victim is who we think it is,” Lenius says.

Hilda says officers could have asked the man who was with Bell that night for his name, and looked him up online.

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Nicholas Bell's family
Hilda Bell and her daughter Praze Bell hold photos of their 33-year-old son and brother Nicholas Bell who was shot and killed in a Meadowgreen neighbourhood alley on Dec. 13, 2023. Photo by Michelle Berg /Saskatoon StarPhoenix

She says it took her three days to find her son’s body. She tried calling the coroner the day he died, but there was no response.

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The next day, she went to St. Paul’s Hospital, where she was told Bell was admitted to RUH, but moved to City Hospital. The day after, she went to City Hospital. Hilda eventually reached a social worker at RUH who told her there was no coroner working on the weekend.

“I was literally, frantically at these hospitals looking for him because … they wouldn’t even let me see my son.”

Hilda says an emergency room doctor called three days later to tell her that Bell had been a “John Doe” while he was hospitalized.

“Nicholas has never been in trouble with the law before, he’s got a clear record. But the way they treated this was like he was a criminal.”


Hilda believes the initial police characterization of her son’s homicide implied that he was involved in a mutual confrontation when, by all accounts, it was a street robbery.

In January, police released surveillance video from the Cree-Way gas station, just down from Bridges. Hilda says she found out about the footage through a friend who saw it on social media.

In it, a man wearing a black jacket and light pants emerges from the alley and walks southbound on Witney Avenue toward 21st Street, his back to the camera. The video is time stamped at 1:08 a.m.

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police image
Saskatoon Police released these images of two men they seek public help identifying in connection with the homicide of Nicholas Bell. (Saskatoon Police, supplied)

Police also released images of two men from another security camera, taken at 1:40 a.m. — a minute before paramedics arrived. Hilda says she was told the footage is from the 22nd Street McDonalds parking lot.

One man is dressed similarly to the man in the other video — wearing a black jacket with the hood up, light pants and black and white shoes.

Lenius says they have not located any of the men.

“There have been a number of persons of interest early on in the file that we have been able to exclude from that list. We still do have people of interest that we continue to investigate,” he says.

He confirms what Hilda was told: That a dog track was done from the crime scene, down Witney Avenue to 21st Street, heading toward downtown. The scent was lost in a park between Avenue X and Avenue Y South, and the stolen, broken beer was found somewhere in between.

Hilda questions how the shooter got away, given the number of police she was told were at the scene.

She says officers came to her son’s wake and asked her to make a video, pleading to a man they had in custody to confess to the shooting. He was ultimately released without being charged, Lenius says.

As of May 8, Hilda said her last conversation with investigators was on Feb. 21. She says a new investigator reached out to her the day after the StarPhoenix requested an interview.

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“We like to be in contact with the victims’ families as often as we can, but a lot of times we don’t have updates so we don’t reach out,” Lenius says.

“We have been open with the family and shared what we can, and we are listening to them and investigating any leads or information they receive as well.”

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Nicholas Bell collage
A collage of Nicholas Bell with his sister Praze and mother Hilda. Bell was shot and killed while walking home from Bridges off-sale on Dec. 14, 2023. Supplied photo

A caring man

Bell didn’t need to take on the role of a father figure for his younger sister Praze, but he wanted to.

Praze says he was her best friend, even though they were 13 years apart. He helped her pick out her high school grad dress, taught her to drive, bought her flowers on Valentine’s Day. They shared a love of music; she played piano for him and they sang karaoke together.

“I was just like his little baby,” Praze says.

Hilda met her son two or three times a week for lunch. He talked about buying a house where she could live so he could take care of her when she got old, she recalls.

They would walk by the river, hike at Beaver Creek and swim at Pike Lake. He had a big friend group, mostly from elementary school, she says.

“He was always encouraging people. He seemed to make them braver.”

Bell was a mixed martial arts fighter who had a few fights in Saskatoon and Alberta, earning him the nickname “Nick the Quick.”

“Nicholas is a very level-headed person. He is so friendly, makes friends everywhere, but he wouldn’t hesitate to defend a friend. He’ll automatically trust people until he doesn’t. It was his downfall, in a way, because he was so trusting,” Hilda says.

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Nick the Quick
Nick “The Quick” Bell was an MMA fighter in Saskatoon (Funeral handout)

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