Bloomington, MN – The convicted felon accused of grabbing a five-year-old boy and tossing him over the Mall of America’s third-floor railing on Friday allegedly told police that he intended to kill the child.
According to investigators, Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, said he went to the Mall of America “looking for someone to kill,” the St. Cloud Times reported.
He allegedly told police that he had formulated “a plan to kill someone at the mall” the day prior, but that his homicidal idea hadn’t come to fruition, according to the criminal complaint.
The harrowing attack occurred outside the Rain Forest Café at approximately 10:15 a.m., as the little boy and his mother were standing with another woman and her child, KMSP reported.
Aranda, who they had never met, suddenly approached them, grabbed the boy, and tossed him over the railing.
He plummeted nearly 40 feet to the first-floor level below, and was rushed to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis with multiple fractures to his arms and legs. He also suffered massive head trauma, and was bleeding from his head.
The victim was listed in stable condition on Monday morning.
Witnesses said that the boy’s mother appeared to be in shock and screamed uncontrollably after her son was tossed over the railing, the St. Cloud Times reported.
“Oh my God! Pray for my son,” she wailed.
A bystander attempted to keep Aranda at the scene, but he managed to escape and made his way to a light rail train outside, where police ultimately located him and took him into custody, according to KMSP.
He later confessed to having committed the violent attack on the little boy.
“He said he planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the Victim instead,” court documents read, according to the St. Cloud Times. “Defendant…said that he was the one who had thrown the 5-year-old Victim from the balcony and fled.”
Mall security footage showed Aranda as he looked down over the third-floor railing multiple times prior to the attack, KMSP reported.
Aranda allegedly blamed his actions on women who had rejected his advances at the mall over the past several years, according to the St. Cloud Times.
According to investigators, Aranda claimed that he “had made efforts to talk to women in the Mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and to be aggressive,” court documents read.
He was charged with attempted first-degree premeditated murder on Monday.
Aranda, who is originally from Chicago, was previously convicted of felony first-degree property damage, and has a long history of misdemeanor offenses.
On one occasion, he smashed computers inside a Minneapolis public library.
He was also arrested at the Mall of America in 2015, after he tossed items off of an upper level of the shopping center.
He was prohibited from going to the mall for the next year, but was arrested there weeks later for harassing two women, throwing dishes at diners, and panhandling aggressively, the St. Cloud Times reported.
Aranda has repeatedly been court-ordered to participate in mental health counseling, to take prescribed medications, and to abstain from drugs and alcohol.
“This crime has shocked the community,” Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement to KMSP. “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.”
The community has rallied behind the young boy in the wake of the attack, and a GoFundMe campaign raised over $600,000 as of Monday afternoon.
“Landen has a very long road to recovery ahead of him,” the fundraising page read. “He has many surgeries ahead in his life to try to get back to a normal life for a young, vibrant boy.”
“He is the sweetest kindest [five-year-old] you will ever meet,” the page continued. “His soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets.”
“The family sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support from the community,” Freeman told KMSP.