Man Accused of Punching 2 Kids Inside Lodi Target

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LODI -- A man in Lodi is accused of punching two children inside the Target store on West Kettleman Lane.

The Lodi Police Department says officers were dispatched to the store Wednesday evening and learned an 11-year-old and a 5-year-old were punched in the head.

"He screamed loud. It rang throughout the entire store," Amber Burchfield, who was in the store at the time, told FOX40. "At the time I didn't know that anything was wrong because, I mean, when your kid screams it's hard to differentiate a kid throwing a fit or a kid being tired."

Investigators say the attack was unprovoked.

"They look like they were just minding their own business in the store and he walked up to them and punched them in the head," Lodi Police Detective Michael Hitchcock said.

Officers ultimately found the man suspected in the attack, 51-year-old Jeff Hardcastle, behind an electrical box behind the building and taken into custody.

Burchfield, who has two young children of her own, says she didn’t find out what happened until she saw the mother of the children with police near the front exit.

"She was sitting on one of the self-checkout stands and she was holding the little boy who was fetal position on her lap," she said. "Just you could tell, just traumatized."

Hardcastle appeared to be under the influence, Hitchcock said. He was booked into the San Joaquin County Jail.

Burchfield now says she will be extra vigilant the next time she's out running errands.

Both children are expected to be OK.

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