Assault just the latest in growing number of police calls to Asheville Mall


    David Bell, 51, of Black Mountain, is charged with misdemeanor assault on a child under age 12 and two counts of assault on a female after police said he pushed and punched an 11-year-old girl.

    APD information shows that a recent, high-profile assault was just the latest prominent incident in a growing number of police calls to Asheville Mall.

    Videos of the altercation quickly went viral, but the fight is not the first bit of trouble the mall has had.

    Part of the 911 call from the mall is below.

    DISPATCHER: "Buncombe 911, fire, police or medical?"
    CALLER: "We need police at the Barnes and Noble in the Asheville Mall, right outside the mall entrance. There's some kind of altercation happening out there."

    A look at APD incident reports over the past three years shows a steady increase in calls to the mall. Below are the number of calls the Asheville Police Department says it received:

    • 1,397 calls for service in 2018
    • 1,115 in 2017
    • 1,037 in 2016

    The vast majority of calls and incident reports were for larceny and shoplifting, and many were not significant enough to generate incident investigation reports.

    Those that did represent a wide range of complaints -- from assault with a deadly weapon to armed robbery, concealing a weapon and a drug offense.

    In the recent incident, an off-duty police officer working mall security arrested a Black Mountain man after an altercation with juveniles Saturday at Asheville Mall.

    After he shoved and punched an 11-year-old girl, and video of his actions were shared on social media, 51-year-old David Bell, of Black Mountain, was charged with misdemeanor assault on a child under age 12 and two counts of assault on a female .

    The two other assault counts are based on warrants taken out by two other accusers who came forward later.

    There's been no official word about why the fight started, or what drove Bell's actions.

    Bell is scheduled to make a court appearance Feb. 5.

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