John Edward Kudla, 17, Charged as Adult in Hammer Attack on His Father, Reserve Sheriff's Sgt. Jon Kudla: Update

See the update on page 2 with the counts against John Edward Kudla, who is being charged as an adult in the attempted murder of Orange County Sheriff's Reserve Sgt. Jon M. Kulda, who is comatose.

ORIGINAL POST, MAY 22, 4:18 P.M.: A 50-year-old Orange County reserve sheriff's sergeant was shot, possibly in the head, and severely beaten, possibly with a hammer, by a 17-year-old occupant of their Rancho Santa Margarita home today, authorities say. The boy, later identified by neighbors as the victim's son, surrendered after a car chase, but fears he was armed and heading to Trabuco Hills High School prompted a campus lockdown.

The mother of the sheriff's reserve sergeant called 9-1-1 around 9:45 a.m. to say her son had suffered severe head trauma in a beating in an upstairs bedroom in the 21000 block of Shadow Rock Lane, according to Jim Amormino, the sheriff's spokesman.

The man was rushed to Mission Hospital, where he was listed in critical condition with blunt force trauma to the head, possibly caused by a hammer, according to investigators, who added he may also have been shot in the head.

The presumed son was driving a black convertible that a California Highway Patrol officer spotted on the San Gabriel (605) Freeway at the Santa Ana (5) Freeway and followed him to East Los Angeles, where the teen was pulled over.

The youth, whose name and relationship to the victim was withheld, was taken back to Orange County for questioning, according to Amormino, who identified him only as a "person of interest."

Neighbors described the father and son as having a typical relationship and seeing no signs of discord. "They were just building stuff the last time I saw them," a teen neighbor named Toan told KABC Eyewitness News. "They had a work bench out here, and they were just sanding things down, so it looked just normal. I didn't think anything was wrong at all."

After the boy suspect was in custody, Trabuco Hills High School posted this message on its website at 4:04 p.m.:

The THHS campus was placed on a lockdown today by the OC Sheriffs Dept. as a precaution during an off-site incident they were investigating. As soon as they determined that no danger existed on the campus, the lockdown was lifted. Students were released to lunch and then to their period 7 classes and the day concluded with business as usual.

The lockdown was reportedly lifted at 1 p.m. The same high school was locked down on April 23 after a senior called in a bomb threat from campus. He was later arrested.

UPDATE, MAY 27, 11:15 A.M.: John Edward Kudla, 17, was charged as an adult for attempting to murder his father while he slept in their Trabuco Canyon home, the Orange County District Attorney's office (OCDA) announced.

The teen is being held in lieu of $1 million bail pending a June 14 arraignment hearing in Newport Beach, where he is charged with three felony counts each of attempted murder, aggravated assault, unlawful taking of a vehicle and a sentencing enhancement for causing brain injury and paralysis.

Conviction on all counts could have him spending the rest of his life in state prison.

According to an OCDA arraignment statement, Kudla moved into the home some time before this month. Living there was his father, Orange County Sheriff's Reserve Sgt. Jon M. Kudla, who is attached to the Search and Rescue Division and also owns Enterprise GPS Tracking Solutions in Tustin.

Around 6:30 a.m. Wednesday, the teen took a large construction hammer from the kitchen area that was under renovation, walked upstairs to his father's bedroom and his his dad several times in the head with the hammer, according to authorities.

The teen then got dressed, ate breakfast, told another family member the man upstairs was sick and would probably stay in bed all day, stole the unconscious man's wallet and keys and drove his Volkswagen convertible to school, the OCDA says.

The 17-year-old is accused of meeting his friends and driving and dropping them off at a McDonald's restaurant, but did not go back to school, the OCDA notes. The school is presumably Trabuco Hills High School because the campus had been placed on lockdown while authorities searched for Kudla.

Around 9:30 a.m., the family member found Sgt. Kudla injured and bleeding. He was taken by paramedics to Mission Hospital in Mission Viejo, where he was comatose in critical condition after life-saving surgery.

The hammer used in the attack was found rinsed off and left in a bathroom sink between the teen's and victim's bedrooms, according to the OCDA.

The statement mentions nothing of a gunshot wound. Sheriff's investigators had said when deputies first rolled up on their fallen colleague it appeared he's been shot.

Email: Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!


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