The man charged in the shocking attack on a 5-year-old boy at the Mall of America last week made his first court appearance Tuesday without entering a plea.
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in Friday’s attack at the mall in Bloomington. He’s accused of choosing the boy — whom he did not know — at random and throwing him over a third-level railing, sending the child plummeting nearly 40 feet to a stone floor.
Aranda appeared in a courtroom Tuesday inside the Hennepin County jail. Dressed in orange prisoner clothing, he stood in a small booth behind a glass partition, much like those seen in convenience stores.
Asked by Hennepin County District Judge Jeannice Reding to identify himself, Aranda spoke in a clear voice as he spelled out his first, middle and last names and listed his address — the site of a Minneapolis shelter.
As the judge discussed case scheduling with prosecutors and defense attorneys, Aranda watched attentively. When the attorneys had finished speaking, the judge asked Aranda if he had any questions.
“Not at all,” he replied.
When the hearing ended, a sheriff’s deputy slid some paperwork through a slot in the glass for Aranda to sign.
After the hearing, an attorney representing the victim’s family made a brief statement outside the jail.
“The family appreciates the outpouring of support from across the country, reassuring them of the overall goodness of humanity and of God’s will,” attorney Stephen Tillitt said.
The boy, whose first name is Landen, remains in critical condition at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. Tillitt said the child “with the grace of God and excellent support and care, is beginning the long, long journey to recovery.”
Tillitt said the family is appreciative of a GoFundMe effort that, by Tuesday afternoon, had raised $700,000. He also pleaded for privacy, asking members of the public not to try to contact the family.
The judge, meanwhile, reserved setting bail, ordering that Aranda continue to be held in lieu of $2 million bond. The next hearing in the case is scheduled for May 14.
According to the criminal complaint filed Monday in Hennepin County District Court, Aranda went to the mall “looking for someone to kill.” He told investigators that he knew what he did was wrong, according to the complaint, but that he had become frustrated and angry because women at the mall had rejected his attempts to talk with them.
Security video showed Aranda walking on the mall’s third floor and looking over the balcony several times before approaching the victim and his mother, the complaint said.
The victim’s mother told police that she and her son were with a friend of hers and her friend’s child outside the Rainforest Cafe when Aranda approached them. The victim’s mother said Aranda came very close to them, and she asked him if the group should move.
“Without warning, Defendant picked up the Victim and threw him off the third floor balcony,” the complaint said.
The boy suffered multiple injuries, including fractures in his arms and legs. Medical personnel at the scene reported that he was bleeding from the head and had massive head trauma.
Aranda, who has roots in the Chicago area, has a felony conviction for first-degree property damage as well as a long string of misdemeanor arrests and convictions. He also has had arrests in Illinois, including on charges of assault and theft. The disposition of those cases is not clear from Illinois state records.
In a previous Minnesota criminal case, Aranda told police that “he has some anger issues” after being arrested for allegedly smashing computers at a Minneapolis public library, according to court records.
In 2015, he was arrested at the Mall of America after a police officer saw him throwing items from the mall’s upper level. Aranda was ordered to stay away from the mall for a year, but he ignored the order. He was arrested at the mall weeks later for aggressively panhandling and harassing two women and for throwing beverage glasses at diners in a mall restaurant.
Court files show that judges have repeatedly ordered Aranda to undergo mental health counseling, abstain from alcohol and drugs and take prescribed medications.