Man Who Allegedly Threw Boy, 5, Off of Mall of America Balcony Was Looking for Someone to Kill

By Zachary Stieber

The man who allegedly grabbed a 5-year-old boy and hurled him off of a balcony at the biggest mall in the United States was looking for someone to kill at the time of the incident, law enforcement officers wrote in charging documents.

Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, was arrested on April 12 after allegedly trying to kill the boy. He was charged with first-degree attempted premeditated murder on April 15.

The mother of Landen Hoffmann, the boy, told officers that she, her son, her friend, and her friend’s child were outside the Rain Forest Cafe on the third floor of the mall on Friday morning when Aranda approached them.

She said Aranda came close to them so she asked if they were in his way and if they should move. That’s when the suspect picked up Landen, threw him off of the balcony, and fled.

Officers estimated that the boy fell approximately 39 feet before smashing into the floor. He suffered multiple fractured bones in his arms and legs in addition to massive head trauma.

Aranda was arrested while waiting nearby for a light rail train.

The suspect later confessed to officers that he threw the boy off of the balcony, according to court documents obtained by WTSP. He said he’d traveled to the Mall of America, which is just outside of Minneapolis, looking for someone to kill. He planned to kill an adult but ended up choosing the boy instead. He didn’t explain why he changed his mind.

Aranda blamed his homicidal act on women at the mall rejecting his advances over the past several years.

Surveillance footage showed Aranda walking in the mall on the third floor on Friday and looking over the balcony several times before approaching Landen and the boy’s mother.

“This crime has shocked the community,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. “That a child, with his mother, at a safe public area like a mall, could be violently attacked for no reason is chilling for everyone.”

Prosecutors said they’d pursue an aggravated sentence based on the boy’s age and the fact that the crime occurred in front of his mother and other children, reported KARE 11

According to court records obtained by the broadcaster, Aranda was arrested on July 4, 2015, after he matched the description of a man who witnesses said was throwing things from the mall’s upper level. Officers said he resisted arrest and refused to give them his name. He was also accused of breaking glasses in a store that day.

In October 2015, witnesses told officers that Aranda approached a woman who was waiting for a restaurant to open and asked her to buy him something. When she refused, he allegedly threw a glass of water in her face and a glass of tea that hit her leg. He was already under a trespass notice from the July incident and was banned from the mall until July 4, 2016.

The complaint released on Monday said that Aranda was wanted on a warrant for assault in the state of Illinois as well as for a conviction for first-degree damage to property in Hennepin County in Minnesota.

The GoFundMe campaign for Landen, meanwhile, surpassed $590,000 as of Monday, with more than 17,000 people donating in just two days. The boy remains in critical condition at the hospital.

“He had a peaceful sleep and is still continuing to fight his courageous battle, he’s a strong survivor!” wrote Noah Hanneman, a family friend, on Sunday. “No other significant updates at this time, but please continue to keep him in your prayers. We will continue to keep updating as we can. Thank you all and God bless!”