A Florida man was arrested after brutally attacking a pregnant woman who he believed had the coronavirus.
According to an arrest report from the Cape Coral Police Department, officers were called to a local apartment complex on Monday and followed the screams for help from a woman who was allegedly being beaten by Joseph Newell (pictured above).
The report states that when officers reached a breezeway in the apartment complex, they allegedly spotted the 24-year-old man “straddling” the victim, who is six months pregnant, with his hands wrapped around her neck.
Police reportedly told Newell to stop, but he allegedly refused and continued to pummel the woman, prompting officers to step in by applying a “pain compliance” technique to Newell’s neck to get him to follow their orders. After cops put him in handcuffs, the man reportedly started slamming his head into the concrete. The report states that Newell was intoxicated at the time of the attack.
It’s unclear if Newell and the victim know each other, but she reportedly told police that he was aware she was pregnant. She also told investigators that Newell attacked her because he believed she had contracted COVID-19.
The woman was taken to the hospital for treatment. Meanwhile, Newell is behind bars at the Lee County Jail on an aggravated battery charge, and is currently being held on a $15,000 bond. After his arrest, the man reportedly kept making references to COVID-19 while in the presence of police.
The news of the arrest comes as the known cases of coronavirus in Florida jumped by nearly 100 overnight, reaching 314, with many Floridians continuing to ignore social distancing guidelines.
— WFLA NEWS (@WFLA) March 16, 2020
Despite the rapid spread of the virus in the Sunshine State, Florida Governor Ron DeSantis refused to issue an order to close the state’s beaches — opting to instead sign an order limiting parties on beaches to 10 people per group, and forcing any business authorized to sell liquor to reduce occupancy by half.
DeSantis said on Tuesday that while local governments can make their own decisions, his order still follows the latest guidance issued by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention, telling reporters:
“What we’re going to be doing for the statewide floor for beaches, we’re going to be applying the CDC guidance of no group on a beach more than 10 and you have to have distance apart if you’re going to be out there. So that applies statewide.”
We have a feeling this minimal response will do little to ease the panicked minds of many.
[Image via Lee County Sheriff’s Office]