LODI (CBS13) — Lodi Police have arrested a 51-year-old man they said was caught on camera punching two young boys.
Police said this happened at the local Target Wednesday night and that the surveillance video is one of the most disturbing they’ve ever seen. The boys are just 5 and 11 years old.
Amber Burchfield, who was at the store when this happened, said she saw the young kids moments after this happened. They were in tears next to their mother.
“She was cradling the little 5-year-old boy and he was crying and sobbing and she was crying,” she said.
Burchfield said she was doing some late night shopping for her family when she heard screams she’ll never forget.
“He was screaming for a pretty long time. It was loud and it was ringing through the whole store,” Burchfield said.
Burchfield said she didn’t understand what was going on at first but later saw the two boys with their family inside the store.
“I offered them candy and I was like, ‘Are you guys ok?’ I was trying to make them feel better but they weren’t… just way too traumatized,” she said.
Police said the man who did this, 51-year-old Jeff Hardcastle was on drugs at the time.
“Even with drugs, I know he was on something, how can you fall to that level that your brain is so poisoned?” Burchfield said.
Detective Michael Hitchcock with Lodi Police said the surveillance video is clear.
“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,” Hitchcock said.
Target shoppers were shocked to hear what happened and think Hardcastle deserves a hefty punishment.
“Obviously he’s mentally unstable,” said Billy Payne.
Burchfield said incidents like this make people afraid to go out.
“The kid can’t defend himself, even the 11-year-old. How are they supposed to defend themselves?” she said.
Hardcastle is in the San Joaquin County Jail facing felony charges for battery and child abuse. He is being held at San Joaquin County Jail on $310,000 bail.