The man charged with throwing a five-year-old boy off a third-floor mall balcony told police he was “looking for someone to kill”, according to prosecutors.
Emmanuel Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, has been charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in Friday’s attack at the Mall of America. He told police he was angry at being rejected by women.
Aranda made his first appearance in court on Tuesday, in which he confirmed he lived in a shelter.
Landen Hoffmann plunged almost 12 metres and is fighting for his life in a Minneapolis hospital with head trauma and multiple broken bones.
Aranda has two past convictions for assaults at the mall, both in 2015, including one in which he threw a glass of water and glass of tea at a woman who refused to buy him something. Aranda at one point was banned from the mall.
Court records show that Aranda had been ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment after the earlier mall assaults.
The boy’s mother told police that Aranda came up very close to her group as they stood outside the Rainforest Cafe restaurant.
She said she asked him if they were in his way and should move, and he picked up the child without warning and threw him off the balcony, according to the complaint.
Police caught Aranda on a light rail train at the mall waiting for it to leave. They said he admitted throwing the child from the balcony and said he had come to the mall a day earlier seeking to kill someone but it did not “work out.”
Aranda originally said he planned to kill an adult before choosing the child instead, the criminal complaint said.
“Defendant 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,” the complaint said.
Aranda was born in Chicago, where Cook County court documents showed a 2014 arrest for aggravated assault with a deadly weapon at a Golden Nugget restaurant in the city.
A case summary said Aranda beat a restaurant employee with a telephone when she threatened to call police about his bill, and pulled a knife on a bystander who intervened. He ultimately pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation.
The family of the Minnesota child has asked for privacy. A GoFundMe page set up for Landen had attracted more than £500,000 in donations as of Monday.
The page’s creator, Noah Hanneman, posted Sunday that Landen had a “peaceful sleep and is still fighting his courageous battle”.
Aranda’s bail remains at $2million. He returns to court in May 14.