US

Boy Thrown From Mall of America Balcony Still Hospitalized

By The Associated Press

BLOOMINGTON, Minnesota—A 5-year-old boy who was seriously injured when he was thrown from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America near Minneapolis remains hospitalized.

A family friend set up the GoFundMe page, saying that the boy is “still very much with us and fighting.” The page wants to help the family cover the medical costs, which will include several surgeries.

The GoFundMe campaign has raised over $500,000.

The GoFundMe page as of 7:30 a.m. on April 15, 2019. (GoFundMe)

The boy, the page said, is “the sweetest kindest 5 year old you will ever meet” and added that “his soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets.”

“No child should ever face such senseless evil. God bless Landen and his family,” said one commenter. “Sending prayers and healing vibes to Landon and his family, you got this little dude, stay strong,” wrote another.

Bloomington Police Chief Jeffrey Potts said Sunday that the boy is “still alive and receiving care,” and that the family wants privacy. Children’s Hospital Minneapolis had no information to release.

The boy fell nearly 40 feet after a man threw him off the balcony on Friday, April 12.

Officials identified the suspect as Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, who fled the scene.

He was taken into custody on the same day at the mall’s transit area and is being held in Hennepin County jail on suspicion of attempted murder.

Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda. (Bloomington Police Department via AP)

Jail records don’t list an attorney for him. He could be formally charged as early as Monday.

Motive Unclear

Police are still searching for a motive. Potts added that while both the victim and suspect are locals, there is no evidence that the suspect knew the victim ahead of the crime.

“[Through] our investigative work and witnesses that we’ve spoken to, we feel confident saying that the suspect threw the child off of the third floor. But, as to why he did that, is still something we’re looking into and trying to figure out,” he said.

Aranda is being held on suspicion of attempted murder, and Potts said the police are expecting to submit the case to prosecutors by mid-day Monday in support of the charges.

On Friday, April 12, witnesses heard a woman screaming that her child was being thrown off a balcony.

“She was screaming ‘Everyone pray, everyone pray. Oh my God, my baby, someone threw him over the edge,'” a witness, Brian Johnson told WCCO-TV.

“This is a horrific situation,” Potts said.

Despite the incident, Potts thinks the mall is still a safe place.

“We think this is a very isolated incident,” he said. “We think the mall is still a very safe place to go.”

The 5-year-old boy “enjoys soccer, playing with friends and family and playing hockey with his brother and sister,” according to the GoFundMe page. However, now the boy “has a very long road to recovery ahead of him,” the page said.

On Friday, the boy “was enjoying a day at the Mall of America with his mom and friend…when a stranger maliciously grabbed him and threw him over the third-floor balcony for no apparent reason.” The family don’t know the suspect and are “completely clueless” as to why the suspect targeted the little boy, according to the GoFundMe page.

Police received an initial report at 10:17 a.m. saying a child had fallen from the third level of the mall, but witnesses reported the child was pushed or thrown by a man, Potts said, according to Reuters.

“We don’t believe that there is a threat to the public at this point as the suspect has been located,” he said, adding that the incident appeared to be isolated.

The Mall of America, home to 330 stores, is located in the city of Bloomington, just south of Minneapolis. According to the mall’s website, it is visited by 40 million people from around the world each year.

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The Mall of America, typical of the closed mall pioneered in the 50s, in Bloomington, Minn., on Feb. 23, 2015. (Adam Bettcher/Getty Images)

In a statement, Mall of America said it was “a senseless act and words cannot truly express our profound shock and sadness,” ABC News reported. “Our immediate and only concern is for the wellbeing of the family and the child, as well as for any individuals who may have witnessed the incident.”

“We have counseling services available for anyone who may need assistance. We know that this is a concerning event for all of us. As the Bloomington Police Department continues to investigate how and why this isolated incident happened, we will provide our full cooperation,” the mall said.

Epoch Times reporter Tom Ozimek and Reuters contributed to this report.