A North Carolina man is facing criminal charges after he allegedly assaulted three girls in North Carolina, according to local reports.
David Steven Bell, 51, of Black Mountain, attacked the female victim after girls surrounded him near the Asheville Mall over the weekend.
The 6-foot-5 Bell then shoved one of them during an exchange, according to video footage.
The girl then raised her hands and ran at Bell, who hit her in the face, knocking her to the ground.
The other people in the video then began screaming before the recording ended. Some of the others are seen running back into the mall.
Bell was booked on three charges, including assault on a child under the age of 12, according to the Asheville Citizen-Times.
The girl he punched was 11 years old, according to the report.
He’s also facing two counts of assault on a female after two teen girls told police he shoved them, the paper reported, citing police.
The condition of the 11-year-old girl is not clear.
Two representatives of the teen girls who alleged he assaulted them declined to issue a comment.
“Some measures are visible to the public and others are not,” mall spokeswoman Catharine Wells told the Citizen-Times about security at the mall. “In addition to maintaining a full-time professional security team, we partner with the Asheville Police Department and hire off-duty officers to patrol the interior and exterior of the property.”
The report said that Bell is listed as 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds.
Other details about the case are not clear.
Commenters online expressed their outrage over the incident.
“This is disgusting,” one comment said, according to the New York Post. “Who in their right mind finds it okay to punch an eleven year old girl? Especially being as large as he is. It saddens me that this hatred is in a town that I hold dear to my heart and has always had such a peaceful environment.”
Bell is due in court on Feb. 5
We are aware of the videos circulating on social media. The @AshevillePolice responded immediately and the situation was diffused. An arrest has been made. Please contact the Asheville Police Department with further questions.
— Asheville Mall (@AshevilleMall) January 13, 2019
The video went viral on social media after actor D.L. Hughley tweeted about it.
One of The Nation’s Most Serious Concerns
According to a report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (pdf), around 3.5 million children in 2016 were the subjects of at least one maltreatment report to authorities.
“Child abuse is one of the nation’s most serious concerns,” the authors of the report wrote.
About 17 percent of those reports were substantiated, and the department said that there were an estimated 676,000 victims of child abuse and neglect. That amounts to 9.1 victims per 1,000 children.
Children in their first year of life had the highest rate of victimization at 24.8 per 1,000 children, the report said.
About three-fourths of the cases were neglect, and about 18 percent were physical abuse. Some children suffered from multiple forms of maltreatment, the HHS said.