5-year-old victim in Mall of America incident ‘showing real signs of recovery,’ family says
(MINNEAPOLIS) -- The family of a 5-year-old boy who was thrown from the third-floor balcony at the Mall of America released a hopeful update on Friday, saying that despite "a long road ahead," the boy is "showing real signs of recovery."
"We have good news to share with you on this Good Friday," the family said in a statement. "Our miracle child is showing real signs of recovery. New test results have been positive, though he remains in intensive care with a long road ahead. Our faith in God and our savior Jesus is strong, and we are gaining more reason for optimism day by day. We continue to appeal for privacy as we focus on our son, and thank you for respecting our wishes. Just know that we absolutely feel your overwhelming love, prayers and support, for they seem to be working. Thank you so much from the bottom of our hearts."
The incident occurred on Friday, April 12, when Emmanuel Aranda, 24, grabbed the child and tossed him down nearly 40 feet, leaving the boy with life-threatening injuries, including multiple broken bones and severe head trauma, according to charging documents.
Aranda ran away from the scene, but police apprehended him at a nearby light rail station in Bloomington, about 10 miles south of Minneapolis. Officers said he appeared "calm" as he was arrested and never questioned why he was taken into custody.
Aranda told investigators he was "looking for someone to kill, but it did not 'work out,'" according to a probable cause document released Monday. He said he came up with a plan to "kill someone at the mall" on Thursday and indicated that he was angry because women at the mall had rejected him.
"He said he planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead," the document said. "[He] indicated he had been coming to the mall for several years and 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."
Investigators said he repeatedly acknowledged he'd come to the mall with intentions to kill and signaled that he was "aware that what he was doing was wrong," according to the charging documents.
Aranda was previously banned from the mall for throwing water in a woman's face and destroying property. Police said he also had a warrant for his arrest in Illinois on assault charges.
Police said surveillance video from the scene showed Aranda entering the third floor of the mall and looking over the balcony several times before he approached the 5-year-old victim and his mother.
The victim's mother said she noticed the suspect getting "very close to them" and asked if she and her son should move, the documents said. Aranda remained silent as he lifted the boy up over the balcony, "without warning," and threw him down to the first floor, according to the charging documents.
Aranda didn't appear to know the victim, said police.
Aranda was being held on felony charges of premeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
Aranda made a brief court appearance on Tuesday where bail was set at $2 million. His next court appearance was set for May 14.
The 5-year-old was described on a crowdfunding page as a "full of energy" child who enjoys playing hockey with his brother and sister.
A statement from the Mall of America last week said, "This was a senseless act and words cannot truly express our profound shock and sadness. Our immediate and only concern is for the well being of the family and the child, as well as for any individuals who may have witnessed the incident."
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