A man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy from the third floor balcony at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota, had a history of harassing women, authorities say.
Prosecutors have charged Emmanuel Aranda, 24, with attempted premeditated first-degree murder. He's set to make his first court appearance Tuesday (April 16) afternoon.
Prosecutors say Aranda was "looking for someone to kill" when he threw the 5-year-old boy off a balcony at the Mall of America on Friday. According to the charging documents, the boy and his mother were standing outside the Rain Forest Cafe when Aranda approached them. The boy's mother asked him if they were in his way and if they needed to move. But instead of answering, Aranda grabbed the 5-year-old and tossed him over the side of the third floor, authorities say.
Aranda attempted to flee on foot after throwing the boy off the balcony, but thanks to witnesses and surveillance video, police were able to quickly track him down in the mall. Aranda was arrested and taken to the Hennepin County Jail.
According to charging documents, when police asked him what he was doing, he told them that he had "come to the mall that day looking for someone to kill, but it did not 'work out.'"
Aranda had originally planned to kill an adult before throwing the boy off the side of the balcony, authorities said.
"This crime has shocked the community," Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. "That a child, with his mother, at a safe public area like a mall, could be violently attacked for no reason is chilling for everyone. Our victim advocates are working with the family during this very difficult time for them. We charged Mr. Aranda with the most severe crime that the evidence allowed."
"We charged Mr. Aranda with the most severe crime that the evidence allowed," Freeman added.
This isn't Aranda's first run-in with the law. The charging documents show that the 24-year-old had multiple offenses and incidents at the Mall of America. He told investigators that "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."
Aranda has previously been arrested on three misdemeanor charges that include; property damage, disorderly conduct, and interfering with a police officer. He'd been banned from the mall several times in the past, but did not currently have an active ban against him last Friday according to the Washington Post.
One incident had Aranda approach a woman sitting outside a restaurant where he asked her to buy him something. When she refused, Aranda followed her into the restaurant where he sat next to her and continued to make requests for her or her friend to give him money. When management asked him to leave, Aranda reportedly became aggressive and threw water and a glass of tea at the woman. Aranda was arrested following the incident on six misdemeanor charges.
Authorities said Aranda had an active warrant for his arrest from Illinois for assault and conviction for property damage in Hennepin County, Minnesota.
The 5-year-old suffered multiple fractures and a "massive head trauma" as a result of the fall and remains in critical condition, the charging documents state. A friend of the boy's family has set up a GoFundMe account to raise money for the boy. More than $679,000 has been raised since Friday.
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