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Man accused of throwing child from MOA balcony makes first court appearance

April 16, 2019 10:32 PM

The suspect charged in connection to an incident in which authorities say a 5-year-old boy was thrown over the railing of a third-story balcony at Mall of America made his first appearance in court Tuesday.

Court records show 24-year-old Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda has been charged with first-degree premeditated attempt to commit murder in Hennepin County.

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KSTP's Brett Hoffland said the court appearance lasted about five minutes. 

The judge kept bail for Aranda at $2 million. 

Aranda is set to be in court again on May 14.

Stephen Tillitt, an attorney representing the victim's family, told reporters the child remains in critical condition, and said the family is thankful for the support it has received. A GoFundMe for the family had raised more than $700,000 by Tuesday evening.


More from KSTP: 

Suspect accused of throwing child from MOA balcony charged with attempted murder

Child pushed in MOA incident suffered multiple fractures, remains hospitalized; suspect held for attempted murder


According to the complaint, Aranda told authorities he "had formed a plan to kill someone at the Mall" the day before, and had come to the mall with the intent of carrying that plan out, but it did not "work out." He allegedly said he "planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead."

Bloomington police were called to MOA Friday morning on a report of a child being thrown from a third-floor balcony.

After arriving on the scene, officers found the child on the first floor with "obvious and severe injuries." The complaint states medical personnel indicated he had multiple fractured bones and severe head trauma.

The child is thought to have fallen about 39 feet.

The child's mother reportedly told authorities that she and her son had been with a friend and her child on the mall's third floor outside the Rain Forest Cafe when a male she had never seen before approached them.

That man - later identified as Aranda - is alleged to have come so close to them that the child's mother asked if they were in his way and should move. Then, she said, the man grabbed her child without warning and threw him off the balcony in front of herself and several other witnesses, including children.

The complaint states that Aranda then took off running, pushing an individual who had attempted to stop him from leaving the scene against a wall.

He was located on a light rail train at the mall, waiting for it to depart, according to the complaint.

The complaint goes on to allege that several witnesses identified Aranda as the man who had thrown the child. He reportedly agreed to speak to officers. And, the complaint alleges he acknowledged throwing the child from the balcony and fleeing.

He allegedly claimed he had made efforts to "talk to women in the Mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive."

The complaint notes Aranda has "previously been trespassed from the Mall" for throwing water in a woman's face, and for destroying property. It also states there is a warrant for his arrest from Illinois for assault.

According to the complaint, surveillance footage from the mall allegedly shows Aranda walking on the third floor and looking over the balcony several times before approaching the child and his mother.

Aranda's court-appointed attorney said Aranda has been in mental health court before, and said once he gets all the state's evidence he'll work to determine the best outcome. Court records show Aranda had been ordered to undergo pyschological evaluation or treatment after his previous two convictions at the mall.

The attorney, Paul Sellers, also urged the community to focus on mental health options for those who need it instead of waiting for bad things to happen and demanding retribution.

"You wonder whether things could be prevented if we spent more on mental health treatment on the front end and mental health options on the front end, instead of always just waiting for bad things to happen and seeking retributive justice," Sellers said after Tuesday's hearing.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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