(Reuters) - The man accused of seriously injuring a 5-year-old boy by throwing him from a balcony at Minnesota’s Mall of America last week told investigators he had initially intended to kill an adult, but it did not “work out,” prosecutors said on Monday.
Emmanuel Aranda, who police said has a history of mental issues and arrests on relatively minor charges, went to the mall last Thursday and left without following through on his plan, the Hennepin County Attorney’s office said in a statement.
He returned on Friday when he picked the boy and threw him from the building’s third tier, it said.
Police have not identified the boy, but said he suffered life-threatening injuries after falling nearly 40 feet (12 meters) at the Bloomington mall, a major tourist attraction in the state.
In a GoFundMe post that has so far raised more than $570,000 for the child’s medical expenses, a friend of the family identified as Noah Hanneman of Woodbury, Minnesota, said on Sunday that the boy, whom he identified by his first name Landen, was still fighting for his life.
“He had a peaceful sleep and is still continuing to fight his courageous battle,” Hanneman said. “He’s a strong survivor!”
Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, will face attempted premeditated first-degree murder charges when he makes his first court appearance on Tuesday, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement. Prosecutors will ask that bail be set at $2 million, Freeman said.
“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,” Freeman said. “We charged Mr. Aranda with the most severe crime that the evidence allowed.”
Aranda told investigators that he knew what he was planning to do was wrong, prosecutors said in the complaint. They said he lashed out aggressively after years of coming to the mall to try to speak with women and being rejected.
After throwing the boy from the balcony, Aranda fled the scene but was arrested elsewhere at the mall a short time later, Bloomington Police Chief Jeff Potts said on Friday.
Aranda had been arrested by Bloomington police three times in 2015, including once after he threw an object from the third level at the mall, Potts told reporters on Saturday.
Some of Aranda’s previous arrests were heard in mental health court, Potts added.
(Family friend corrects spelling of boy’s first name to Landen instead of Landon, paragraph 5.)
Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by Matthew Lewis
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