People on Twitter have voiced outrage over a video showing a 51-year-old man punching an 11-year-old girl outside a shopping mall in North Carolina.
However, some argue that David Steven Bell of Black Mountain was acting in self-defense.
According to the Asheville Citizen-Times, Bell was arrested and charged with assault against a child under the age of 12 after he was filmed striking one girl and assaulting two others on Saturday outside the Asheville Mall.
The circumstances leading up to the altercation remain uncertain.
Watch the video (Warning: the footage below may upset some viewers):
The video posted to YouTube appears to show a group of teens taunting a man in a grey pullover before he’s shoved and responds by punching a youth.
Bell has not responded to the paper’s request for comment.
As reported by WMUR, his attorney Andy Banzhoff defended his client to the Citizen-Times, saying he was trying to help a female bystander whom he thought was being harassed by “a large pack of youths.”
A representative for the girls assaulted declined to comment.
The 30-second clip was widely shared on social media. And the footage has enraged many as Bell is listed in an incident report as standing 6-foot-5 and 250 pounds.
One commenter wrote on Twitter:
As a grown MAN more than twice the size of the 11 yr old child he assaulted, he could have easily walked away. It was the easier choice, yet he decided to engage and become violent. Why? Because he thought he could get away with it.
However, some people online came to the suspect’s defense, saying he was responding to a threat after being pushed.
Man this one is tough. I can’t condone how he handled it, but I’m sure the way they were surrounding him and harassing his family had everyone’s emotions up. Looks like he was trying to leave but they had him surrounded. Fight or flight doesn’t recognize age, just danger.
— Father Fanboy (@Father_Fanboy) January 15, 2019
Additional information about the fight remains scarce.
Banzhoff admits that his client struck the child in the video “with a closed fist,” and regrets using “physical force.” He says Bell is suffering from traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder and has undergone long term treatment.
At the time of the incident, Bell was trying to escort the woman through an exit and was harassed by the kids who blocked him from leaving.
Banzhoff said his client and family are praying for healing for “those impacted by this unfortunate incident.”
Bell is scheduled to appear in court on Feb. 5.
Watch the video below: