Man pleads guilty to throwing 5-year-old boy from mall balcony

A man who reportedly told investigators he went to the Mall of America “looking for someone to kill” pleaded guilty Tuesday to throwing a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony. He now faces 19 years in prison in a June sentencing.

Emmanuel Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, was charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April attack on the child, who survived a nearly 40-foot plunge but suffered broken bones and head trauma.

Police arrested Aranda moments after the attack as he waited to board a light-rail train at the mall, and said he had quickly admitted to it. Aranda told police he was angry at being rejected by women at the mall and was “looking for someone to kill” when he went there, a criminal complaint said.

He had two past convictions for assaults at the mall, both in 2015, and had been banned from the property at one point. Court records showed Aranda was ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment after those assaults, and his attorney Paul Sellers said he had been in mental health court.

Aranda, wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, spoke quietly during a hearing Tuesday while giving yes-or-no answers to questions aimed at making sure he understood what he was admitting.

His plea deal calls for prosecutors to drop an aggravated-circumstances component to the charge that could have meant an additional year in prison. Prosecutor Cheri Ann Townsend said the boy’s family supports the plea deal.

GoFundMe page set up for the family well surpassed its $1 million goal, with contributions from more than 28,000 people totaling $1,022,404 in mid-May. The page says the boy was enjoying a day at the mall with his mom and friend “when a stranger maliciously grabbed him and threw him over the 3rd floor balcony for no apparent reason.”

“The family doesn’t know him and are completely clueless as to why this monster would target their family with this heinous act of violence,” it added.

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