BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — A 24-year-old man arrested Friday morning accused of randomly throwing or pushing a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America has had other violent incidents at the Bloomington shopping center, court records show.
The man, identified by police as Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, was accused in July 2015 of throwing things off the upper level of the mall to the lower level. He also refused to give his name to police and resisted arrest.
Aranda was given a trespass notice then to stay away from the mall. But three months later he was accused of returning and throwing a glass at a woman in a mall restaurant.
In Friday’s incident, the boy suffered life-threatening injuries and was being treated at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said.
Potts said that Aranda was not known to the child or to his family and that investigators are “actively trying to figure out why this occurred.”
Aranda ran from the scene but was arrested in the mall’s transit station. Aranda, who lives in the Twin Cities metro area, was being held by Bloomington police on suspicion of attempted homicide.
Potts said the incident was isolated — that Aranda was not known to the child or to his family — and that investigators are “actively trying to figure out why this occurred … whether it was an interaction up on the floor or why that is.”
The chaotic scene played out about 10:15 a.m. in the southeast corner of the mall. Police officers responded to a report of a child falling over a third-floor railing, but soon learned the child had been “pushed or thrown,” Potts said.
The boy fell to the first floor alongside escalators by the Michael Kors and Clarks stores. Mall patrons and police officers performed life-saving measures on the boy, Potts said.
A woman who works at a nearby store and who did not want to be identified said she heard loud screams, went outside the store and saw the boy hit the ground.
“Time stopped for a minute for me,” she said. “I saw the boy go motionless.”
Potts did not say whether the child and his family are from Minnesota or visiting.
“Of course, our immediate concern is for the child,” Potts said, adding the mother is with the child. “Our thoughts and prayers are obviously with that child and his family in hopes that that child is able to recover.”
A portion of the mall on the first and third levels was cordoned off as police and the Hennepin County sheriff’s office crime lab processed the scene.
Police are working with mall officials to see if there is video of the crime, Potts said.
Metro Transit stopped Blue Line light-rail service in and out of the mall around 11 a.m. due to the police activity. Service resumed just before 11:30 a.m.
“This was a senseless act and words cannot truly express our profound shock and sadness,” the Mall of America said in a statement. “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.”
“We have counseling services available for anyone who may need assistance,” the statement continued. “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.”
According to Minnesota court records, Aranda has been convicted of interfering with a police officer, trespassing and fifth-degree assault — all misdemeanors — and felony first-degree damage to property.