A 51-year-old North Carolina man is accused of punching an 11-year-old girl in the face during a fight Saturday at the Asheville Mall, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
Video of the altercation has been viewed thousands of times on YouTube, drawing outrage against the man and some criticism of a group of teens who appeared early on to be taunting him.
An off-duty police officer arrested David Steven Bell outside the mall Saturday, minutes after he is accused of hitting the 11-year-old and pushing two other 13-year-old girls, the Citizen-Times reported Monday.
TV station WLOS reported Bell lives in Black Mountain and is charged with assaulting a girl under age 12, and two counts of assault on a female.
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The Asheville Mall acknowledged the incident on its Facebook page Saturday.
“We are aware of the videos circulating on social media,” said the post. “The Asheville Police Department responded immediately and the situation was diffused. An arrest has been made. Please contact the Asheville Police Department with further questions.”
Newsweek quoted an Asheville Police spokesperson as saying “a fight involving a group of juveniles broke out at the Asheville Mall...David Steven Bell, 51, pushed a young girl and hit her.”
Videos of the incident have been posted multiple times on YouTube, including one that has been viewed 104,000 times.
In one 29-second video, a man is seen surrounded by a group of teens, one of whom appears to shove him from the back. The man begins to argue with one of the youths, and he then pushes her. The teen gets up and rushes at the man and he punches her in the face, knocking her to the ground, the video shows.
Media outlets did not report what prompted the altercation, and it was not clear if the 11-year-old was seriously injured.