A Twin Cities man accused of throwing a child over a third-floor railing at the Mall of America has a history of mental health problems and had twice been ordered to stay away from the mall, court records show.
In a previous criminal case, Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda told police that “he has some anger issues” after being arrested for smashing computers at a Minneapolis public library.
Aranda, 24, is being held by Bloomington police on suspicion of attempted homicide after he threw or pushed a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony at the mall Friday morning, police said.
Aranda was arrested in the mall transit station after fleeing the scene.
The boy was taken by ambulance from the mall to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. No further information on his condition was available Friday.
Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said that there doesn’t seem to be any connection between the victim, his family and Aranda. Potts said he didn’t know whether the victim’s family is from Minnesota or elsewhere.
Aranda has a long string of arrests and convictions for misdemeanor criminal offenses in recent years, court records show. At the time of Friday’s attack, there was an active warrant for his arrest stemming from a 2017 assault case in Hennepin County.
In 2015, Aranda was issued a trespass notice ordering him to stay away from the Mall of America. He ignored the order and in October of that year was arrested after harassing and panhandling two women diners at a restaurant and throwing drinking glasses at diners, according to a criminal complaint.
He was convicted of fifth-degree assault, trespass and interfering with a police officer. Aranda was sentenced to 30 days in the Hennepin County workhouse and ordered to get a mental health evaluation. He was also ordered a second time to stay away from the Mall of America.
Aranda was at the mall Friday, police said, when he threw or pushed the boy over the railing, sending the child some 30 feet or more onto a stone floor two levels below.
Tina Hailey of Burnsville was walking with her husband and had just rounded the corner on the mall’s first floor near Macy’s when she heard screams.
“Oh, my God! Pray for my son!” she heard the boy’s mother yell.
The mother screamed uncontrollably and appeared to be in shock, Hailey said. “She didn’t know what to do. Nobody was helping her,” Hailey added.
Hailey, who has a 4-year-old grandson, said the screams and the sight of those working to revive the boy will haunt her.
“I won’t forget it. It was horrific,” she said. “I hope he survived.”
Police were called to the mall at 10:17 a.m. on a report of a child falling over a railing, but witnesses said the child had been “pushed or thrown,” Potts said.
The child fell to the first floor, where several witnesses and passersby tried to perform CPR on him, Potts said. Initial accounts over emergency audio indicated that the child wasn’t breathing.
Blue Line light-rail service to the mall was suspended for about 45 minutes as police responded.
In the past six months, Aranda was charged a half-dozen times with riding public transit without paying, court records show.
In August 2015, he was arrested for smashing computers at the Sumner Library in north Minneapolis.
According to a police statement, Aranda told officers that he became angry after reading something on Facebook and smashed five computers.
“He said he has some anger issues and told the officer that it does not happen all the time,” the police statement said.
A month later, in September, Aranda was back at the Sumner Library, harassing a female library employee. According to a police statement, the woman called police from her car in the library parking lot because Aranda had been bothering her, trying to ask for a date.
According to the statement, Aranda admitted he was stalking the woman and knew where she lived. He also admitted that he knew he was breaking an order to stay away from the library for a year.
Aranda’s case was assigned to Criminal Mental Health Court. He was discharged from custody six months later and placed on probation.
Aranda also has a felony conviction for first-degree damage to property.
In his most recent court cases, Aranda gave his address as a Minneapolis shelter home for those recovering from drug and alcohol addiction. In other court cases, he gave his address as the Salvation Army Harbor Light service center in Minneapolis.
Police check security cams
Small portions of the mall’s southeast court on the first and third floors remained cordoned off Friday afternoon as lab technicians processed the scene.
Businesses in the area of the incident were closed as police collected evidence. Potts said police are looking at security video from inside the mall to gather more information.
The mall, which opened in 1992, has been the site of occasional crimes. In 2012, dozens of young people were involved in a melee that led to heightened security. In November 2017, two men were wounded when they were stabbed by a 20-year-old man who claimed he did it on behalf of ISIS.
Staff writer Paul Walsh contributed to this report.