ASHEVILLE — The North Carolina man accused of pushing and punching a child Saturday at the Asheville Mall also was charged with assault against two 13-year-old girls, according to arrest warrants obtained Monday.
David Steven Bell, 51, is due in court next month following an altercation that happened just before 7 p.m. Saturday outside the mall at 3 S. Tunnel Road. Bell was arrested by an off-duty officer after police say he pushed and punched an 11-year-old girl, resulting in a charge of assault on a child under the age of 12, a misdemeanor offense.
Two additional victims, both 13-year-old girls, later told the Buncombe County Magistrate’s Office that Bell pushed them during the incident, police spokeswoman Christina Hallingse said Monday. That resulted in two additional charges for assault on a female, Hallingse said, also misdemeanors.
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Bell is due in court Feb. 5 for the three charges, county court records show.
Video of the incident showing roughly 40 seconds of the interaction has been widely circulated on social media, including by nationally known writer and activist Shaun King and comedian D.L. Hughley. The Citizen Times has not independently obtained the video footage.
The footage has drawn degrees of outrage against Bell, listed in an incident report at 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds, for assaulting the much smaller victim, who has not been publicly identified. Some also have come to Bell’s defense on social media for the perception he was responding to a threat after having been pushed himself, shown early in the video.
Additional context about the incident remains scarce. Bell did not respond to multiple phone requests for comment. The Citizen Times was unable to reach representatives of the 11-year-old girl.
A representative for one of the 13-year-old girls declined comment Monday, citing a need to to speak with family before deciding to speak publicly. The other 13-year-old girl’s representative declined to comment.
Asheville Mall spokeswoman Catharine Wells said in an email Monday that the mall’s owner, CBL Properties, is reviewing “the incident, response and current protocol” to determine if adjustments will be made going forward. The mall’s code of conduct prohibits “all” illegal activity on its premises, including violence and physical abuse.
Wells said the mall has “a number of security measures in place” for both the interior and exterior of the property.
“Some measures are visible to the public and others are not,” she said. “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.”
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