DUNEDIN, Fla. (WFLA) — A Dunedin Kindercare employee was arrested on Wednesday after a witness told Pinellas County deputies she repeatedly punched a child in the head.

According to a Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office arrest report, a witness heard screaming coming from the playground area and found Ashley Richardson, 32, yelling at a 4-year-old boy and “repeatedly punching him with both an open hand and closed fist”. After the child was reportedly shoved to the ground, the witness began filming.

Deputies said the video showed Richardson, a preschool teacher, pulling the child into her lap, punching him in the head and pushing him to the ground. Richardson reportedly yelled at the child, “Do you want me to hit you?”

After he stood back up, the affidavit states Richardson “yanked the child by his arm and shirt towards her”. He sat down next to her on a bench and she reportedly put her arm around his “shoulder and neck area”.

When deputies interviewed the child after the incident, he told them that he “got in trouble” and Richardson was punishing him for fighting with his brother. Richardson reportedly told deputies that she put her hand over the child’s mouth because he was laughing at her, but she did not hit him. She claimed she was consoling him.

Richardson was taken to the Pinellas County Jail and charged with child abuse. Deputies said she has been employed at Kindercare since March 2021 and has been placed on administrative leave.