Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack

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LODI, CA- This past August, a 51-year-old man decided to violently attack two innocent children inside a Target store in Lodi, CA.  Now police have released surveillance video of the crime.

We need to warn you…it is very disturbing.

Jeff Hardcastle walked up to two children, ages 5 and 11 years old in the video game department and without provocation punched the two young children, the 11-year-old from behind, and the 5-year-old in the face. The force of the punch to the younger child knocked him to the ground. Despite being attacked, the 11-year-old went to his brother’s assistance.

A passer-by ran to the child and grabbed him by one arm and one leg and pulled him away from Hardcastle.

A woman who was in the store when the attack happened spoke to the CBS affiliate in Sacramento.   She said that she was the children after the attack; 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,” said Amber Burchfield.

“He was screaming for a pretty long time. It was loud and it was ringing through the whole store.”  She said that she was in the store going late night shopping for her family when she heard the screams.

Burchfield said she didn’t initially know what happened, but then saw the boys with their family.

“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 to traumatized,” she said.

According to police, Hardcastle was on drugs at the time of the assault.

Burchfield did not buy it as an excuse.

“Even with drugs, I know he was on something, how can you fall to that level that your brain is so poisoned?” Burchfield said.

Lodi police said that the surveillance video was 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,” Detective Michael Hitchcock said.

After the surveillance video was released when Hardcastle was sentenced this week, parents who saw it were outraged.

“I would have lost it. Physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually lost it,” said Melvin Goodrum Jr.

Deserie Lisondra couldn’t believe a stranger would just walk up to small kids and do this.

“I really would not contain myself; this is my child; I don’t know you why would you put your hands on my child?” she said.

The surveillance video shows Hardcastle wandering the store aimlessly throughout the aisles. At one point he was hunched over a chair. After receiving the call for assistance, Lodi police officers were able to corner him behind an electric box outside the Target store.

This past Wednesday, Hardcastle was sentenced to nine years in prison.

Hardcastle pled no contest to assault and causing great bodily injury to a minor. As part of this sentence, he also admitted to a previous violent felony, a robbery from 2008.

This past October, a young child was walking with his parents in the borough of Queens in New York City when a total stranger threw him to the ground.  The 7-year-old boy, who lives in Long Island, was waiting for a pizza delivery on his grandparents’ porch when he was attacked without provocation.

The suspect, 35-year-old Laurance Gendreau was arrested and charged with assault, acting in a manner injurious to a child younger than 17 and harassment, according to the NYPD.

Gendreau was walking in the area and suddenly picked up the boy and threw him to the ground. The child was transported to the hospital and was treated for hemorrhaging to the brain and a contusion to the head.

The initial report to police was of an emotionally disturbed person.

The boys grandfather, Naftali Portnoy, told NBC New York that the suspect said:

“I’m bipolar. I wanted to kill the kid,” and that the man had been bothering other people on the block prior to the unprovoked attack.

Gendreau was listed as “undomiciled” or homeless. Sadly, under New York’s new “criminal justice reform,” even people who commit unprovoked attacks on children will receive what is tantamount to a traffic ticket.

Let’s not forget the attack that happened in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Last month, we reported that a 5-year-old boy who was thrown from a Mall of America third-floor balcony and survived is “walking perfectly” and could be off his medication soon.

Landen Hoffman was hospitalized with two broken arms, a broken leg and fractures to his face and skull when Emmanuel Aranda, 24, tossed him about 40 feet during a random attack at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn. on April 12.

He was forced to undergo 15 separate medical procedures and surgeries due to the injuries and “severe complications.” He returned home months later.

Now, Hoffman said to be enjoying life and is going to kindergarten with his twin brother and sister.

Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack
Landen Hoffman is recovering and has returned to school after the horrific attack.

 

An update by Landen’s mother on Facebook explained his current status.

“He gets out of the car every morning happy and blows kisses all the way in! He’s a strong, happy boy,” the post said. “When his mommy asks him if she can look at his wound or asks how he’s doing, he always responds with ‘Mom, I’m healed, you don’t need to ask me anymore.’ Landen loves life and Jesus!”

It continued: “He tells people all the time when they get hurt, don’t worry, I fell off a cliff, but Angels caught me and Jesus loves me, so I’m ok and you will be too!”

Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda was charged with attempted homicide after throwing the 5-year-old boy approximately 40 feet from a third-floor balcony.

Aranda was sentenced to 19 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder in early June. He told investigators he decided to hurt the child after going to the mall looking for someone to kill.

Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda is now behind bars for the attack.

 

The man said he had been rejected by women for years, which caused him to “lash out and be aggressive.”

Prior to this incident, Aranda was noted to have a string of arrests and convictions for misdemeanor offenses. 

In 2015, a trespass notice was issued against Aranda by the Mall of America but ignored the order in October of that year and was arrested for panhandling and harassing two women in a mall restaurant. 

According to his arrest records, he was ordered to stay away from the mall on two occasions, and also from the Minneapolis Library where he was charged with smashing several computers – he told police that he read something on Facebook while at the library that made him angry and decided to destroy five computers.

In separate situations, he had been charged with 5th-degree assault, trespass, and interfering with a police officer.

Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack
The incident took place at the Mall of America in Minnesota. (Flickr)

 

He had been charged at least 6 times with riding public transportation without paying, and at the time of the incident involving Landen Hoffman had an active arrest warrant for assault.  He was intent on “looking for someone to kill” that day at the mall and searched for someone standing close to the guardrail of the highest floor.

News reports noted that Aranda is Somali Muslim and Landen Hoffman is white and has blonde hair. It is unclear if Aranda’s choice of victim played a large role in his motive, but there is strong hostility in the Minneapolis area between Somali Muslims and Native Minnesota residents. 

Over 80,000 Somali Muslims have relocated to the greater Minneapolis area, causing huge issues for police and police administrations, not helped by weak support from the city’s mayor.  US Representative Ilhan Omar (D – MN) has been a very controversial voice in the area, often bringing national-level drama to the area.

But Omar may run into some issues when looking to get re-elected.

Chris Kelley is a decorated veteran with the United States Army. He’s been police officer in Minneapolis for 20 years. And now, he’s bringing his expertise from a life of service to the political world.

Kelley recently announced that he would be running as an Independent to challenge Representative Ilhan Omar for her seat in Congress.

Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack
Chris Kelley served the military for 27 years and as a police officer for 20. Now he’s bringing the voice of defenders back to the public. (Facebook)

 

He said that for him, it’s all about continuing to serve others.

“I’m passionate about service and I just want to be able to continue that,” Kelley said in an interview with Fox News.

So what exactly prompted the veteran police officer to decide to run against Omar?

He said that it was her comments about 9/11 that pushed him to throw his name in the ring.

According to Kelley, “some people did something” just didn’t feel right. He thinks that leaders of our country need to have a greater appreciation for those so willing to lay down their life in order to protect and defend others.

“It was very dismissive and disrespectful,” Kelley said. “September 11 was a terrible loss of life, not just for police officers and firefighters and other first responders, but 3,000 people and non-combatants died, and to be dismissive of that was an outrage.”

Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack
Freshman Rep. Ilhan Omar (Flickr)

 

He said that Rep. Omar seems to be more concerned about her ‘celebrity status’ than actually doing things for her district, though he did say that he didn’t want his campaign to be a negative political smear against the current representative. 

“I won’t be bringing in controversy and scandal. I will be bringing firsthand knowledge of the things that I know are going on in the community as an officer. I see a lot every day — the homelessness, the opioid crisis; I want to bring these things to the forefront and put some ideas on the table on how to deal with them,” said Kelley.

Did you know that Law Enforcement Today has a private new home for those who support emergency responders and veterans?  It’s called LET Unity, and it’s where we share the untold stories of those patriotic Americans.  Every penny gets reinvested into giving these heroes a voice.  Check it out today.

Man punches children in Target in brutal, unprovoked attack

 

The combat vet and first responder said that he’s not looking to bolster his reputation – but simply help the people within his district. 

“As former military, I am here to serve and not further my status. I want to do a good job for the people I represent and I don’t have a personal agenda,” Kelley said on Friday. “I want to do anything I can to make people’s lives better; I just want to sit and listen to people and make some positive change.”

In his laundry list of accomplishments, Kelley is recognized for giving more than 20 years to the Minneapolis Police Department, as well as two deployments to Iraq during Operation Iraqi Freedom and once during Desert Storm. 

Additionally, the Post reported that Kelley earned a Master’s degree in criminal justice leadership from Concordia University in St. Paul.

 

He knows he faces an uphill battle after Omar secured more than 75 percent of the vote in 2018, but he’s committed to helping the American people create real resolutions to our problems.  

One of the issues he feels strongly about is immigration, saying that the government has not done enough to fund CBP and DHS. Kelley says by not providing them with support and proper funding, those public servants have come under attack by Omar and others for conditions at the border.

“There’s not a cop or anybody in law enforcement who wants to see anybody suffer. We do need secure borders. You don’t have a country without a border, and allowing anybody to walk in is ridiculous,” he told the Duluth News Tribune.

According to Kelley, he wants to create a better pathway for those looking to come to the United States for circumstances outside of their control.

“We have a lot of good people coming in that will help the country,” he said.

Want to learn more about Chris’s campaign? Visit his website right here.

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