CRIME
17/04/2019 1:22 AM AEST | Updated 17/04/2019 10:06 PM AEST

Man Who Threw Child Off Mall Balcony Was Upset Women Rejected Him: Police

Emmanuel Aranda, 24, reportedly told police he was looking for someone to kill at Minnesota's Mall of America.

A man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy off the third-floor balcony of Minnesota’s iconic Mall of America last week told police he was furious that women repeatedly rejected him, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday.

Emmanuel Aranda, a 24-year-old man from Minneapolis, has been charged with attempted first-degree murder after confessing to tossing the child, whom he didn’t know, off the nearly 40-foot-high platform, the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office announced.

The victim, named Landen, was critically hurt in the fall at the Bloomington mall ― the largest retail shopping mall in the U.S and a major tourist attraction. He suffered multiple fractured bones in his arms and legs, as well as massive head trauma, according to the complaint.

Landen’s mother told police that they had been standing outside the mall’s Rainforest Cafe on April 12 when Aranda approached them. She said Aranda came very close to them, so she asked if he wanted them to move out of his way.

That’s when Aranda grabbed Landen, without warning, and threw him off the balcony before running away, the boy’s mother and several other witnesses told police. Officers subsequently located Aranda on a light rail train in the mall and placed him under arrest.

Aranda quickly confessed to throwing the boy off the balcony and fleeing the scene, according to the complaint. He allegedly said he planned to kill someone at the mall a day earlier but that it didn’t “work out.”

Aranda told police that he expected to kill an adult because they usually stand near the balcony but chose to attack the boy instead, according to the complaint. He repeatedly acknowledged that he planned to kill someone at the mall and knew what he was doing was wrong, police said.

Surveillance video from the mall shows Aranda looking over the balcony on the mall’s third floor several times before approaching Landen, the complaint stated.

Aranda told police he had been coming to the mall for several years, where he attempted to talk to women but was frequently rejected, according to the complaint. The rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive, Aranda allegedly told police.

Aranda made his initial court appearance in Hennepin County on Tuesday, where he showed little emotion and told the judge he lives in a shelter, according to local mediareports.

He faces life in prison if convicted of attempted first-degree murder. He is due in court again May 14. Following the court appearance, Aranda was returned to the county jail, with bail set at $2 million.

Adam Bettcher via Getty Images
An exterior view of Mall of America during a media tour of its security systems on February 23, 2015 in Bloomington, Minnesota.

Aranda was previously banned from the Mall of America for threatening patrons and had been cited for smashing computers at a Minneapolis public library, CBS Minnesota reported. 

Court documents reportedly show a warrant for Aranda’s arrest on an assault charge stemming from an incident at a Chicago restaurant in August 2014. Aranda is accused of smashing a plate over a patron’s head and threatening bystanders.

Aranda was ordered to undergo mental health counseling after being convicted of two separate assaults at the Mall of America in 2015, though it’s unclear if he sought treatment, reported The Twin Cities Pioneer Press.

Paul Sellers, the public defender appointed to represent Aranda, told the news outlet that his client had been in mental health court before.

“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.

A GoFundMe page had raised over $670,000 toward Landen’s medical expenses and rehabilitation costs as of Tuesday morning.

Landen’s “soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets,” according to the crowdfunding page, created by a friend of the victim’s family. “The family doesn’t know [the suspect] and are completely clueless as to why this monster would target their family with this heinous act of violence.”

This article has been updated to include Aranda’s court appearance.