April 16, 2019 06:49 PM
A 5-year-old boy who witnesses say was thrown over the railing off the third-story balcony at the Mall of America Friday remains in critical condition, according to the Bloomington Police Department.
The victim's family is asking for privacy and for their name to be withheld at this time, according to Police Chief Jeff Potts. Doctors removed the child's spleen, he has multiple fractures on the face, arm and leg. He has many surgeries ahead of him. One of his cousin's posted on social media, "He is fighting to stay with us every second."
Sunday, a spokesperson shared a message from his parents, "He had a peaceful night of sleep, we are overwhelmed by all the love, support...prayers...and donations." Loved ones started an online fundraiser to help cover medical bills and the lengthy rehabilitation ahead of them. By Sunday night, it had topped $500,000. More than 15,000 people contributed.
According to Hennepin County Jail records, 24-year-old Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda was booked on suspicion of attempted homicide.
At a press conference earlier Friday, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said police responded to the southeast court at the mall around 10:17 a.m. The child had plummeted nearly 40 feet, "as you can imagine that is a pretty high fall and immediately my thoughts were how can something like this happen?"
Witnesses told police the child had been either thrown or pushed and that the suspect had taken off running. Potts said police managed to catch up with Aranda at the nearby transit station. He was arrested, is cooperating and reportedly told investigators he had "anger issues."
A relative of Aranda's offered empathy to the victim's family, "I pray for the mom and the family because, sighs, I can't even imagine how she feels," replied Francis Aranda, the suspect's Uncle.
A source told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the encounter started as the boy and his mom were headed toward a restaurant when Aranda, a complete stranger, allegedly approached them and asked if he was in their way. They said no and immediately, Aranda hurled the boy off the shopping mall balcony on the third floor down to the ground. A tender memorial was created where the child landed on the first floor.
Aranda's uncle, Francis Aranda, said his nephew had violent tendencies since childhood, even with his own family. In 2014, before moving to Minnesota, he was charged with a handful of crimes, including assault, after he threatened to slit a restaurant employee's neck during a dispute in the Chicago area, "he has a serious mental problem, he was diagnosed as a child," replied Aranda.
Bloomington Police confirmed he had been banned twice before from the mall, and the order had since expired. Aranda's uncle shared a final thought, "we are going to pray for that baby because what happened is so unfortunate, but it's going to bring light to mental illness, I hope he doesn't go to jail, he needs help."
"It was a pretty gut-wrenching scene for everyone involved," Chief Potts said Saturday afternoon.
Police are still investigating what the motive was as well.
Click here to see a GoFundMe account set up for the victim's family
Tommy Wiita & Beth McDonough
Updated: April 16, 2019 06:49 PM
Created: April 13, 2019 08:35 AM
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