Police: Man punched boy, 6, at airport

Investigators say nobody knows why man struck child

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - A 20-year-old Jacksonville man is accused of punching a 6-year-old boy in front of a crowded ticket counter at Jacksonville International Airport.

Police said Michael Mellen punched the boy Saturday, but nobody knows exactly why.

According to investigators, the boy was with his family in front of the United Airlines ticket counter when Mellen walked up to the family and struck the boy in the forehead with a closed fist.

"He just walked along, and out the blue hit the kid straight in the head," said Wayne Clark, director of aviation security at JIA. "No apparent reason why he would do this."

Clark said Mellen hit the boy so hard that the boy fell to the ground and his head bounced on the surface.

"The kid fell rather violently on the floor," Clark said.

Ellen Lehnert was traveling that day and witnessed the punch.

"We were real baffled about why," Lehnert, who's from Illinois, said in a phone interview. "I felt really, really bad for the child. The mother had told me that the child didn't know where he was after that, so my guess is the kid hit the child hard enough he might have given him a concussion or something."

The identity of the family is being withheld by police. Clark believes the boy was treated and released from the hospital and has returned home.

Records show Mellen has been accused of doing this sort of thing before. In March, he was arrested and charged with child abuse after he was accused of striking another child who was riding a bicycle in front of his house in Arlington.

Mellen is now charged with aggravated child abuse, resisting arrest and simple assault on a security officer.

His brother was here at the time. He wasn't involved in the punch, but police said he did try to run from officers. Because of that he's also charged with resisting officers, police said.

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