On April 12, a man senselessly threw a 5-year-old boy off the third floor balcony of the Mall of America, a popular tourist destination in Bloomington, Minnesota. The child, identified as Landen, fell forty feet and suffered several life-threatening injuries, including multiple broken bones and severe head trauma. For the past two weeks, he has been in critical condition.
On Friday, family attorney R. Stephen Tillitt reported the boy's condition has improved to "alert and conscious." "All praise, glory and honor to Jesus!" said Tillitt, reading a statement from the family of the child, per ABC News. "We are so elated to let you know that our son is now alert and conscious and is no longer in critical condition!"
24-year-old Emmanuel Aranda allegedly grabbed the child, threw him off the balcony and fled the scene. Police apprehended him at a nearby rail station, where he appeared "calm" and did not resist arrest. According to a probable cause document, Aranda told investigators he was "looking for someone to kill, but it did not 'work out.'" He claimed he wanted to "kill someone at the mall" because he was angry about women rejecting him.
"He said he planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead," stated the document, per ABC News. "[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."
Police said Aranda's actions at the mall were captured on surveillance video. He is currently being held on felony charges of premeditated murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison.
A GoFundMe page has raised more than $1 million to help the boy, who has a long road of recovery ahead.
"We are now turning our focus to additional surgeries, healing, rehabilitation and eventually a return home, which we hope will happen by June," stated Tillitt, on behalf of Landen's family. "We want to personally thank each and every one of you for your love, prayers and support...The road to recovery remains long, but with God and you, we are assured to make it through. Please keep praying for our son."
Last week, the Mall of America released a statement: "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."