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Police ID man suspected of throwing or pushing 5-year-old from third floor at MOA

April 13, 2019 09:17 AM

Bloomington police have identified the 24-year-old suspect they say may have thrown or pushed a 5-year-old boy from the third floor at Mall of America Friday morning.

A release said Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda was being held at the Bloomington Police Department on a possible attempted homicide charge. He would later be booked into Hennepin County Jail on those pending charges.

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The release said Aranda is from the Twin Cities metro area.

At a press conference earlier Friday, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said the child was significantly injured and had been taken to the hospital. 

An Allina Health spokesperson had previously confirmed that one person had been transported to Children's Minnesota from the mall.

Potts said it does not appear the suspect, a 24-year-old male, had a relationship with the child or the child's family.

He said police responded to the southeast court at the mall around 10:17 a.m. The child had fallen from the third level to the first.

Witnesses told police the child had been either thrown or pushed and that the suspect had taken off running. Potts said police managed to apprehend the suspect inside the mall and they do not believe there is a threat to the public.

"We feel this is an isolated incident," he said. "Whether it was an interaction up on the floor or why that is we are actively working on that piece of the case."

A portion of the mall was expected to remain cordoned off Friday as officers processed the scene.

Brian Johnson of Bloomington was at the mall when the incident occurred. He said the boy's distraught mother was next to him on the first floor before first responders arrived.

"She said 'Everyone please pray. Please pray for my son. Everyone here right now, please pray,'" Johnson said.

"How in the heck can this happen with all of the craziness going on in the world," he added. "Why would you single out a kid and ruin a family's life like this. I just hope the child pulls through and I hope whoever did this is brought to justice."

Metro Transit had said there was no Blue Line light rail service in or out of MOA for a time due to police activity there. But service was restored just before 11:30 a.m.

The Mall of America issued a statement on the incident Friday afternoon:

"Earlier today, Mall of America security was notified of an incident involving a child falling from one of the upper floors. Mall Security responded immediately as well as the Bloomington Police Department. Emergency Services were notified and responded as well. The child was treated at the scene and transported to the hospital. Bloomington Police is investigating the incident.

Any additional information about the incident will come from Bloomington Police Department."

They later issued a follow-up statement:

"This was a senseless act and words cannot truly express our profound shock and sadness. Our immediate and only concern is for the wellbeing of the family and the child, as well as for any individuals who may have witnessed the incident. We have counseling services available for anyone who may need assistance. We know that this is a concerning event for all of us. As the Bloomington Police Department continues to investigate how and why this isolated incident happened, we will provide our full cooperation."

Aranda has a lengthy criminal record, including an instance in 2015 where he had been throwing "things" off of the upper level of the mall to the lower level, which got him banned from the mall for a year.

Counselors are available at the Mall of America for those who witnessed the fall to help with post-traumatic symptoms. 

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