Monday, June 18, 2018
Public safety

Mother accused of choking teen boy at St. Petersburg mall over Facebook comments

ST. PETERSBURG — Police have arrested a 46-year-old woman they say choked a teen boy in the middle of Tyrone Square Mall because he had posted comments on Facebook that upset her daughter.

Debbie Piscitella, of St. Petersburg, and her 14-year-old daughter were at the mall about 5:30 p.m. Monday when the girl spotted the boy near Sears, police said.

The mother confronted the teen after her daughter pointed him out.

"The mother of the girl became incensed," police spokesman Mike Puetz said. "She put her hands around his throat and started to choke him."

The 14-year-old boy, who is not being identified, called police as Piscitella continued to berate him.

An officer responded and called the boy's mother, who initially said she did not want to press charges. She changed her mind after her son came home and "she saw the red marks on his neck," Puetz said.

Officers arrested Piscitella about 9 p.m. on a charge of child abuse.

Puetz said Piscitella claimed she touched the boy's neck accidentally, but a witness and surveillance from one of the mall stores confirmed the teen's version.

Piscitella was released from jail Tuesday on $5,000 bail. Jail records list her last name as Freeman.

The police report did not say exactly what the boy said on Facebook.

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