ASHEVILLE, NC (Gray News) – A 51-year-old man has been charged with assaulting an 11-year-old girl and two 13-year-old girls outside a mall in Asheville.
An Asheville Police spokesperson told Newsweek that David Steven Bell of Black Mountain, NC, pushed and hit a juvenile girl outside the Asheville Mall on Saturday night.
An off-duty police officer arrested Bell, who was charged with assault on a child under the age of 12 and two counts of assault on a female, a police spokesperson told Newsweek.
Police said the girl Bell pushed and punched was 11 years old, according to the Asheville Citizen Times.
Two 13-year-old girls told the Buncombe County Magistrate’s Office that Bell also pushed them during the altercation, which resulted in the two charges of assault on a female.
Police said the victims refused transport to a hospital, the Citizen Times reported.
Videos circulating online show a confrontation between a young girl and a man, who’s reportedly Bell. (Warning: The videos contains graphic violence and profanity. One can be viewed HERE.)
The man in the video shoves a girl several yards back. The girl recovers and rushes toward the man. He punches her in the face, knocking her to the ground. Onlookers scream and run away.
On Saturday the Asheville Mall tweeted: “We are aware of the videos circulating on social media. The @AshevillePolice responded immediately and the situation was diffused. An arrest has been made.”
Bell’s attorney, Andy Banzhoff, said Bell was trying to help a woman being harassed by “a large pack of youths," and that he felt threatened when the youths “trapped and surrounded him” and started yelling threatening remarks.
He said a female youth shoved Bell in the back. Another female youth “stepped towards Bell in an aggressive manner” and Bell pushed her away.
“She then got to her feet and aggressively charged in the direction of Mr. Bell," Banzhoff said. "As she entered Mr. Bell’s personal space, he struck her with his closed fist.”
Banzhoff said his client is undergoing treatment for a traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder, and that he regrets using physical force.
Bell’s court date is scheduled for Feb. 5.