Lodi, CA – A convicted felon is being held on $2.3 million bond after he allegedly punched two young boys in their faces in a random drug-fueled attack at a Target store.
Lodi police said that the brutal, unprovoked assaults were captured by store security cameras, KOVR reported.
“Most of our officers have said this is one of the most disturbing videos that they have ever seen,” Lodi Police Department (LPD) Detective Michael Hitchcock told the news outlet.
The video showed 51-year-old Jeff Hardcastle as he “walked up to an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old and punched them both in the head,” the LPD said in a Facebook post on Aug. 29.
A witness said that she heard screaming as she was shopping, and then saw a woman “cradling” a five-year-old boy, KOVR reported.
“He was screaming for a pretty long time and it was pretty loud,” she recalled. “It rang through the whole store.”
The injured boy was inconsolable, and his mother was frantic.
“He was just completely [in a] fetal position, curled up in her lap, and she was just breaking down,” the witness explained. “He was crying and sobbing and she was crying.”
After attacking the children, Hardcastle fled from the store and hid behind an electrical box behind the business, according to the LPD.
Officers arrested him on charges of disorderly conduct, battery, and child cruelty, KCRA reported.
He was also determined to be under the influence during the attack, according to police.
“The kids didn’t look like they did anything at all to provoke the attack, and he never told us why he decided to punch the kids,” Det. Hitchcock told KOVR.
Both boys are expected to make a full recovery.
According to the San Joaquin County District Attorney’s Office, Hardcastle has spent time in prison in the past and has two prior “strike” convictions, KCRA reported.
“The District Attorney reaffirms today that the San Joaquin District Attorney’s Office takes very seriously any assault committed upon a child and will prosecute these crimes to the full extent of the law,” the prosecutor’s office said in a statement to The Record.
Hardcastle is being held on $2.3 million bail, and is due back in court on Sept. 16, KCRA reported.