Last Friday, we reported a horrific story about a little boy who was thrown from a balcony on the third floor of the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. He hit the ground from 40 feet above.
It was a random act of violence. The family had no prior contact with the man, who was arrested in the attack.
The incident happened about 10:15 a.m. on Friday. Police said Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, picked the boy at random and threw him over the third story balcony.
Now, Aranda has revealed why he targeted the young boy, who has been identified as Landen Hoffman. Aranda says that he went to the mall to kill someone.
According to local news, after his arrest, Aranda agreed to speak with officers. He admitted he was the one who had thrown the boy off the balcony.
"He said he had come to the mall that day looking for someone to kill, but it did not 'work out.' He said he planned to kill an adult because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the 5-year-old boy instead. He did not say why."
Aranda also said he had been coming to the mall for several years. He had made efforts to talk to women in the mall, but had been rejected. He said that rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive.
The boy is still alive and fighting for his life. He is listed as in critical condition.
“I know there’s been some reports and some concerns about whether or not he is still alive,” Bloomington Police Chief Jeff 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.”
Aranda was at the mall Friday, police said, when he threw or pushed the boy over the railing, sending the child some 30 feet or more onto a stone floor two levels below.
One woman, Tina Hailey, told the Star Tribune that was walking with her husband when she heard screams.
“Oh, my God! Pray for my son!” she heard the boy’s mother yell.
The mother screamed uncontrollably and appeared to be in shock, Hailey said. “She didn’t know what to do. Nobody was helping her."
After Landen hit the floor, he wasn't breathing. Multiple passersby stopped to help and perform CPR on him.
Police do not believe there was any connection between the family and Aranda. A witness ran after Aranda as he fled and tried to stop him.
He was arrested by the Bloomington police. He is being held at Hennepin County Jail pending charges of attempted homicide.
The boy is currently at the Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis with serious injuries. There is a GoFundMe page for him set up by a friend of the family, Noah Hanneman.
Hanneman, whose wife is a long-time friend of Landon's mother, called him “the sweetest, kindest five-year-old you will ever meet.”
He continued, “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 added, “He has many surgeries ahead in his life to try to get back to a normal life for a young, vibrant boy."
This is not Aranda's first incident at the mall. He had been accused of throwing things off the upper level of the mall, and he threw a glass at a woman at a mall restaurant.
Please join us in praying for Landen. May God bring him back to full health.