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Controversy swirls after 51-year-old man reportedly punches 11-year-old girl after she and her friends surround him

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Image source: New York Post video screenshot/TheBlaze composite

Authorities arrested 51-year-old David Steven Bell after he reportedly punched an 11-year-old girl in the face this weekend.

According to the New York Post, a group of young girls approached Bell on Saturday outside of an Asheville, North Carolina, mall.

In the video, the 11-year-old can be seen confronting Bell. In response, he shoves her away. The girl approaches Bell a second time, and this time, instead of pushing her away, he punches her square in the face.

As she drops to the ground, other girls in the group begin screaming, while others take off running back into the mall.

It is unclear what prompted the incident, as the video does not show the whole altercation.

Police booked 250-pound Bell on charges of misdemeanor assault on a child under the age of 12. He is facing two counts of assault on a female after two other girls — both 13 years old — told police that he shoved them during the scuffle.

A spokesperson for the mall told the Citizen Times that the facility is reviewing security protocol in light of the incident.

"Some measures are visible to the public and others are not," the spokesperson 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."

The condition of the unnamed 11-year-old girl is not known at the time of this writing.

Bell is set to appear in court on Feb. 5 in connection with the incident.

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