Witnesses said Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, pushed or threw the 5-year-old boy on Friday morning from the third-floor balcony of the mall’s interior to the first floor, nearly 40 feet below, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said in a news conference on Saturday, April 13.
Less than 24 hours after it was posted, the GoFundMe fundraiser page for Landen Hoffmann of Woodbury had logged donations from more than 10,000 donors.
“I can’t even imagine!! What a monster to grab an innocent child and do such a horrible thing! My daughter is 4.5 years old…I just can’t imagine someone doing that to her!! Prayers to all of you, and more importantly, Landen!” one person wrote on the page.
“As a mother of two young boys, I am horrified that this occurred and my heart aches for this family. Prayers to sweet Landen, his mother and family – you are all loved and in our thoughts and hearts,” someone else posted.
Noah Hanneman, a member of the fundraising team, wrote on the page: “Thank you everyone who has taken the time out of their lives to hear and support Landen’s story. We have removed his picture as there have been multiple people trying to copy this GoFundMe page and the family is still requesting privacy and has elected at this point not to share photos at this time.”
Boy Remains Hospitalized
Police have said the boy remains in the hospital with serious injuries.
Hanneman confirmed that the child is still alive and being cared for in the hospital.
“The recent update from the Bloomington PD was accurate, he is in stable condition, contrary to the rumors and attention seekers out there stating that he has passed,” he said.
Police described the little boy’s injuries as life-threatening and added that witnesses administered first aid.
“The child is still alive, he’s receiving care, and I think we’re just asking for thoughts and prayers for that child to recover,” Potts told reporters during the press conference. He added that he couldn’t go into detail about the child’s condition.
Video link to today’s BPD press conference. We will keep you updated as this investigation progresses. Also, a heartfelt thank you to all for keeping this young victim & all involved in your thoughts https://t.co/2GXNoD8ZOB
— Bloomington Police (@BPD_MN) April 13, 2019
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 midday Monday in support of the charges.
Brian Johnson walked into Mall of America moments after a child was pushed from the third floor, according to police. Johnson said the child’s family member was asking for prayers and that police immediately got a handle on the scene. @kare11 pic.twitter.com/1gYf7ptzAz
— Danny Spewak (@DannySpewak) April 12, 2019
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 doen’t know the suspect and are “completely clueless” as to why the suspect targeted the little boy, according to the GoFundMe page.
The 5-year-old plummeted three floors after being pushed or thrown from a balcony, according to witnesses. Police say they have a 24-year-old man in custody.
Suspect Has History With Mall
The suspect has a history with the mall and was previously banned, court records show.
Aranda, who lives in the Bloomington area, has been banned from the Mall of America before and was convicted of misdemeanors for two incidents in the mall in 2015, according to court records.
In July 2015, Aranda was charged with causing damage inside stores after he threw items off the upper level of the mall to the lower level, according to court records obtained by WCCO (pdf).
— WCCO – CBS Minnesota (@WCCO) April 12, 2019
Three months later, Aranda was accused of throwing glasses of water and tea at a woman in a restaurant at the mall for refusing to buy him food, according to the court records. In that same incident, he also got into a physical fight with the manager of the restaurant, sending panicked diners running, according to the court documents. Aranda was banned from the Mall of America through early July 2016, the court records show.
NTD reporter Tiffany Meier contributed to this report.