BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — The five-year-old boy thrown about 40 feet from a Mall of America balcony Friday, April 12, is still alive and fighting for his life, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said at a press conference at noon Saturday.
“I know there’s been some reports and some concerns about whether or not he is still alive,” Potts said. “He is still receiving care. We just want to acknowledge that this is a horrific situation. The family and this child are in our thoughts and prayers.”
The incident happened about 10:15 a.m. in the southeast corner of the mall. Police said Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, picked the boy at random and threw him over the third story balcony. Police still do not believe there was any connection between the family and Aranda.
Potts said one witness ran after Aranda as he fled the scene and tried to stop him.
“We’re very appreciative of his effort to try to intervene and help out,” Potts said.
Mall of America security tracked Aranda's location using cameras in the mall, allowing Bloomington police to apprehend him in the mall’s transit station. He is being held at Hennepin County Jail pending charges for attempted homicide.
Potts confirmed that there is video that occurred during the incident, but said it will not be released until the investigation is complete.
The boy was taken to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis with serious injuries. Police are not releasing his name.
A Gofundme page has been set up by Noah Hanneman, who says he is a friend of the family. Hanneman identified the boy as “Landen” and described him as “the sweetest kindest five-year-old you will ever meet.”
Hanneman said his wife and Landen’s mother are long-time friends.
“Their family is always so generous to others,” he wrote. “They give without expecting anything in return and are the type of family you always hope to live next door.”
He reiterated that the family did not know Aranda and said they “are completely clueless as to why this monster would target their family with this heinous act of violence.”
Hanneman said the boy suffered life-threatening injuries.
“He has many surgeries ahead in his life to try to get back to a normal life for a young, vibrant boy,” Hanneman wrote.
Aranda has been involved in incidents before at the Mall of America, one resulting in an arrest, Potts said. In one incident, he was accused of throwing things off the upper level of the mall. In another, he allegedly threw a glass at a woman at a mall restaurant.
In total, Aranda had contact with the Bloomington Police Department three times in 2015 and has been arrested in other jurisdictions.
Potts said the Mall of America will often give a no-trespass order to offenders, with a time limit appropriate to the crime. Most no-trespass orders are in six-month or one-year increments.
Aranda was given a no-trespass order in 2015, but it expired. Potts believes this most recent incident is isolated and said the Mall of America continues to be a very safe place to go.
Potts said the department will focus on preparing its submission for formal charges at the Hennepin County Attorney’s office and anticipates charges will be filed on Monday.
He asked the public to keep the boy’s family and first responders in their thoughts and prayers.
“This is a tough one,” he said. “Immediately my thoughts were, ‘How can something like this happen?’ When it’s involving a young child like that, it’s pretty gut-wrenching for everyone involved.”