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Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony making ‘small steps’ toward healing

Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony making ‘small steps’ toward healing

Boy Thrown from Third-Floor Balcony of Mall of America Making "Small Steps" Towards Recovery

Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony making ‘small steps’ toward healing

The family of a 5-year-old boy thrown from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America last week says he is making “small steps” as he recovers from his devastating injuries.

Landen Hoffman was shopping with his mother and friends around 10:15 a.m. April 12 when Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, is accused of picking the boy up and hurling him over a railing to the first floor nearly 40 feet below. Aranda tried to run, but police, with help from witnesses, found him on a light rail train at the mall and took him into custody. 

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“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,” a GoFundMe page set up to help with Landen’s medical bills states. As of Friday morning, the page had raised more than $870,000 of its $1 million goal. 

Landen, who suffered broken arms and legs and significant head trauma, was initially in critical condition, according to the criminal complaint against Aranda. His condition has since stabilized, but he has a long road to recovery, the GoFundMe page reads

“(His) condition is again similar to previous days. Another peaceful night of sleep -- small steps towards the healing process. Each new day is a good day,” the page read Thursday

“Landen's recovery is expected to be ongoing for a long time. While it’s hard to estimate costs, this will change everything for their family and require much of their time and focus.”

Aranda is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder, according to Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman. Aranda is being held in the Hennepin County Jail in lieu of $2 million bond. 

>> Related story: Man who threw 5-year-old from third floor of Mall of America intended to kill someone, police say

“This crime has shocked the community,” Freeman said in a news release. “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. Our victim advocates are working with the family during this very difficult time for them. We charged Mr. Aranda with the most severe crime that the evidence allowed.”

Bloomington police Chief Jeff Potts said during a news conference Saturday that Aranda was cooperative with detectives. The criminal complaint indicates that Aranda confessed to committing the brazen assault. 

Read the criminal complaint against Emmanuel Aranda below.

“This is a horrific situation,” Potts said. “The family and this child are in our thoughts and prayers. I know the family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers they can get on this case.”

The Hoffman family issued a statement through Freeman’s office showing appreciation for the outpouring of support from the community but requesting privacy as Landen recovers from his life-threatening injuries. 

Mall of America officials also praised the outpouring of support.

“We are grateful for the efforts of all the first responders involved -- including guests and tenants -- for their immediate actions and the outpouring of concern shown by so many for this young child and his family,” a statement read. “For those who have left gifts, flowers and messages of love at the mall, we thank you. Please know we will keep these items safe and handle them according to the family’s wishes.”

The criminal complaint says Aranda told police he had gone to the mall on April 11 intending to kill an adult, but that it did not “work out.” He returned to the mall the next day. 

“He said he planned to kill an adult because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the victim instead,” the document reads. 

Aranda told investigators he chose to kill out of frustration over years of rejection from the opposite sex. 

“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,” the complaint says. “The rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive.” 

Aranda admitted he knew what he did was wrong.

“Defendant acknowledged repeatedly in his interview that he had planned and intended to kill someone at the mall that day, and that he was aware that what he was doing was wrong,” the document says

According to the criminal complaint, surveillance camera footage shows Aranda walking on the third floor of the mall and looking over the balcony several times before approaching Landen and his mother. 

Bloomington Police Department
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, is accused of picking up Landen Hoffman, 5, and hurling the boy over a third-floor railing to the first floor at the Mall of America the morning of Friday, April 12, 2019, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Landen, who fell nearly 40 feet, suffered broken arms and legs and significant head trauma. Aranda is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the case.

Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony making ‘small steps’ toward healing

Photo Credit: Bloomington Police Department
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, is accused of picking up Landen Hoffman, 5, and hurling the boy over a third-floor railing to the first floor at the Mall of America the morning of Friday, April 12, 2019, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Landen, who fell nearly 40 feet, suffered broken arms and legs and significant head trauma. Aranda is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the case.

Landen’s mother told detectives she saw Aranda approach and stand very close to her and her son, the newspaper reported. She asked him if he needed them to move.

“Without warning, defendant picked up the victim and threw him off the third floor balcony in front of (Landen’s mother) and several other witnesses, including children,” the complaint states

Witnesses told the Minneapolis Star Tribune they heard screaming after the boy went over the railing.

“Oh my God! Pray for my son!” Landen’s mother begged, witnesses told the newspaper

Potts said Saturday that Aranda previously was arrested at the Mall of America. Officers were called there in July 2015 after Aranda was seen throwing an object from the third floor. 

“When the officers tried to speak with him, he became … he was not cooperative,” Potts said. 

Aranda was charged in that incident with obstruction, disorderly conduct and damage to property, the chief said. 

Watch the update from Bloomington police Chief Jeff Potts below. 

He was also accused of trespassing at the mall previously after he threw a glass of water in a woman’s face and destroyed property, the criminal complaint says. It was not clear if that was the same incident Potts spoke about during his news conference. 

Aranda had been banned from the mall, but apparently ignored the ban. 

Aranda next came in contact with Bloomington police officers at a local restaurant, where he refused to pay his bill, Potts said. In a third 2015 incident, Aranda was accused of throwing a glass at a worker at a different restaurant. 

He was charged with fifth-degree assault, trespassing, disorderly conduct and obstructing legal process in the third case. That was the last contact Bloomington officers had with Aranda prior to the alleged assault at the mall last week. 

The Star Tribune reported that Aranda was also previously arrested for smashing computers at a public library in Minneapolis. At that time, he told arresting officers he has “anger issues,” the newspaper said. 

Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, is accused of picking up Landen Hoffman, 5, and hurling the boy over a third-floor railing to the first floor at the Mall of America, pictured, the morning of Friday, April 12, 2019, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Landen, who fell nearly 40 feet, suffered broken arms and legs and significant head trauma. Aranda is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the case.

Boy thrown from Mall of America balcony making ‘small steps’ toward healing

Photo Credit: Ariana Lindquist/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, is accused of picking up Landen Hoffman, 5, and hurling the boy over a third-floor railing to the first floor at the Mall of America, pictured, the morning of Friday, April 12, 2019, in Bloomington, Minnesota. Landen, who fell nearly 40 feet, suffered broken arms and legs and significant head trauma. Aranda is charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the case.

Court records indicate Aranda has a string of arrests and convictions in Minnesota, as well as charges of assault and theft in Illinois, the Star Tribune reported. The criminal complaint indicates he had an outstanding warrant for assault in Illinois. 

Judges have repeatedly ordered him to undergo mental health treatment, as well as to abstain from alcohol and drugs, the newspaper reported

Prosecutors are taking Aranda’s latest Mall of America attack very seriously. 

“The state intends to pursue an aggravated sentence based on particular cruelty to the victim, particular vulnerability of the victim and the commission of the act in the presence of other children and the victim’s mother,” the criminal complaint says

The Mall of America website states that the facility “holds itself to the highest standards” when it comes to its security. It has 175 security officers on the payroll. 

“We pride ourselves on our high caliber officers, training and forward-thinking attitude,” the webpage reads. “We take a holistic approach with our industry leading programs and practices which include bike patrol, K-9 units, special operations plain clothes officers, a state-of-the art dispatch center, parental escort policy, crisis planning and lockdown drills.

“We are a unique property and we protect it as such.”

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Cuomo to issue executive order allowing businesses to deny service to maskless customers Update 2:20 p.m. EDT May 28: Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York said Thursday that he plans to issue an executive order allowing businesses to deny service to customers who decline to wear masks amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “We are giving the store owners the right to say, ‘If you are not wearing a mask, you can’t come in,’” Cuomo said during a news conference. “That store owner has the right to protect himself.” 1,261 new cases of COVID-19 reported in New Jersey Update 1:40 p.m. EDT May 28: Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey said Thursday that 1,261 new coronavirus infections have been reported, raising the total number of COVID-19 cases in the state to 157,815. On social media, the governor noted that the number of new cases, new deaths and hospitalized patients reported statewide continued to fall. 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The Democratic governor also lobbied President Donald Trump in Washington for help with massive New York City transportation projects — including train tunnels, a subway expansion and an airport rail link — and accused top Republicans who oppose more aid of “abusing” states, such as New York, that suffered heavy coronavirus losses. The projects require some federal funding or approval. Cuomo said he and the Republican president, who are often at odds, will talk again next week. 1,887 new coronavirus infections reported in the UK Update 12:10 p.m. EDT May 28: Officials in the United Kingdom reported 1,887 new coronavirus infections Thursday morning, raising the country’s total number of infections to 269,127. Officials said that as of 5 p.m. local time Wednesday, the most recent date for which data was available, 37,837 people had died nationwide of COVID-19. 74 new fatal coronavirus cases reported in New York Update 11:40 a.m. EDT May 28: Gov. 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Global coronavirus deaths surpass 356K, worldwide cases top 5.7M Update 4:51 a.m. EDT May 28: The global count of novel coronavirus cases surpassed 5.7 million early Thursday, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. In the four months since the virus was first identified in Wuhan, China, it has infected at least 5,707,163 people worldwide, resulting in at least 356,042 deaths.  Brazil records more than 20K coronavirus cases, 1K deaths in a single day Update 3:47 a.m. EDT May 28: Brazil added another 1,086 coronavirus-related deaths during the past 24 hours bringing its nationwide death toll to 25,598, the nation’s health ministry reported Wednesday. The latest figures, which added 20,599 new cases in one day, bring Brazil’s total number of confirmed infections to 411,821, according to a Johns Hopkins University tally. Brazil trails only the United States for the most confirmed cases. 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Meanwhile, Eberwein asked any willing employees to leave their jobs voluntarily by June 10, but she also noted that if voluntary departures do not result in the needed 30% reduction in staff, layoffs will be the next step, the Post reported. “There is no doubt this is going to be a painful time for all, especially for our departing colleagues, who have given American Airlines their all and are leaving through no fault of their own,” Eberwein wrote in the letter. “They deserve our respect and gratitude.” US coronavirus cases approach 1.7M, deaths climb past 100K Update 12:44 a.m. EDT May 28: The number of novel coronavirus cases in the United States surged toward 1.7 million early Thursday across all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Guam and the U.S. Virgin Islands. According to a Johns Hopkins University tally, there are at least 1,699,933 confirmed U.S. cases of the virus, which have resulted in at least 100,442 deaths.  The hardest-hit states remain New York with 364,965 cases and 29,484 deaths and New Jersey with 156,628 cases and 11,339 deaths. Massachusetts, with 94,220 cases, has the third-highest number of deaths with 6,547, while Illinois has the third-highest number of cases with 114,306. Only 16 states and territories have confirmed fewer than 6,000 cases each. Five other states have now confirmed at least 52,000 novel coronavirus cases each, including: • California: 101,807 cases, resulting in 3,919 deaths • Pennsylvania: 73,557 cases, resulting in 5,265 deaths • Texas: 58,542 cases, resulting in 1,581 deaths • Michigan: 55,608 cases, resulting in 5,334 deaths • Florida: 52,634 cases, resulting in 2,319 deaths Meanwhile, Maryland, Georgia, Connecticut and Virginia each has confirmed at least 40,000 cases; Louisiana, Ohio and Indiana each has confirmed at least 32,000 cases; North Carolina, Colorado, Minnesota, Tennessee and Washington each has confirmed at least 20,000 cases, followed by Iowa with 18,369 and Arizona with 17,318; Wisconsin and Alabama each has confirmed at least 16,000 cases; Rhode Island and Mississippi each has confirmed at least 15,000 cases; Nebraska and Missouri each has confirmed at least 12,000 cases, followed by South Carolina with 10,623; Kansas, Delaware and Kentucky each has confirmed at least 9,000 cases; Utah, the District of Columbia and Nevada each has confirmed at least 8,000 cases, followed by New Mexico with 7,252; Arkansas and Oklahoma each has confirmed at least 6,000 cases. Click here to see CNN’s state-by-state breakdown. The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A Florida man was charged with providing material support to the Islamic State after trying to acquire firearms and targeting 'busy beaches' for a possible terror attack, federal prosecutors said. Muhammed Momtaz Al-Azhari, 23, had negotiated with an undercover FBI employee to purchase a variety of guns and silencers, including an AK-47-style rifle allegedly to be used in an attack. He was arrested Sunday after taking possession of the weapons. “We are grateful for the hard work and swift action by our law enforcement partners and concerned citizens during this investigation,” U.S. Attorney Maria Chapa Lopez said in a statement. “Their coordination and cooperation in this matter allowed us to interrupt a serious threat, without harm to anyone.” Al-Azhari was charged with attempting to provide material support or resources to a designated foreign terrorist organization, prosecutors said in a complaint filed Tuesday. The charge carries a potential 20-year prison term. Al-Azhari scouted a number of Tampa-area locations, including “busy beaches,” the Tampa Bay Times reported. Al-Azhari, who admired the shooter who killed 49 people at the Pulse nightclub massacre in 2016, also went to Orlando, where he visited the site of the shooting. “I don’t want to take four or five, no. I want to take at least 50,” Al-Azhari said on a recording, according to the affidavit. “You know like, brother Omar Mateen in Orlando did. He took 49 with him.” He also allegedly rehearsed what he would say when carrying out an attack, some of which was intercepted by electronic surveillance May 16: “Know America. Today is your emergency. Today we kill from you guys like you killed from us,” he is heard saying, according to the affidavit. “This is a revenge for Muslims.” A key to the case was an eBay transaction in which Al-Hazhari purchased weapons parts from someone in Texas. The package was halted by the U.S. Postal Service and eBay flagged the purchase. The seller then provided FBI agents with details about the deal and the Postal Service seized the package. Al-Azhari's lawyer said the charges unfairly portray his client as a terrorist. “The allegations misunderstand both the law and the evidence,” the public defender, Samuel Landes, said. “I’m thankful that in this country everyone enjoys a presumption of innocence, and I look forward to Mr. Al-Azhari’s day in court before a jury of his peers.” The Associated Press contributed to this report.
  • A waiter working on Memorial Day was surprised to get a $2,000 tip. Armando Garcia, a server at Los Cucos Mexican Cafe, was given the gracious gratuity on a $64 check, KVVU reported. 'I couldn't believe it,' Garcia told KVVU. 'It's been tough for everyone, for me. It's been a relief, I'm just thankful for it.' Garcia thought it was a mistake, but there was a note written on the receipt that read: 'Stay safe, thank you for your great service. Hope this helps. Love, the Lopez Brothers.' The Lopez Brothers are dancers and have millions of subscribers on TikTok, KVVU reported.
  • Police on Long Island have added another link in a chain of 11 unsolved Gilgo Beach killings believed to be the work of a serial killer. Using genetic genealogy, Suffolk County police investigators have identified one of the slain women, initially dubbed “Jane Doe No. 6,” as Valerie Mack, police officials said Thursday. Mack’s identification comes 20 years after she vanished. Mack, a Craigslist escort who lived and worked in Philadelphia, was 24 years old when she was last seen in the spring or summer of 2000 in the area of Port Republic, New Jersey. Her partial remains were found in Manorville that November and near Cedar Beach in 2011. Mack was never reported missing, Suffolk County Police Commissioner Geraldine Hart said in a video statement. “It is our hope that our efforts bring some sense of closure and peace to Valerie’s family,” Hart said. Watch the entire video statement here. Police officials called Mack’s identification a “giant leap forward in the investigation.” “Valerie Mack’s identification represents progress in this investigation, but there is much work left to do,” Hart said. “As detectives continue to relentlessly pursue leads related to her murder, we ask members of the public, friends, family, and associates of Valerie Mack to provide whatever information they have about her and the circumstances which may have led to her death.” Mack was among 11 victims whose remains were found scattered along a stretch of beach on Long Island. The gruesome discovery was made as authorities searched for Shannan Gilbert, a 24-year-old Craigslist escort who vanished May 1, 2010, after running from a client’s home in the Oak Beach community. Gilbert’s remains were ultimately found Dec. 13, 2011, in a marsh in Oak Beach. Hart said her agency worked with the FBI and utilized advances in DNA technology, particularly genetic genealogy, to narrow down an identity for “Jane Doe No. 6,” as well as the two remaining unidentified Suffolk County victims. A genealogy profile was established for Jane Doe and homicide detectives and federal agents used data from that profile to seek leads in areas of New Jersey to which she may have had ties. They spoke to potential relatives of the victim and obtained DNA samples, which ultimately led to Mack’s identification. “Our goal was, and continues to be, bringing justice to the victims and to their families,” Hart said. Chilling discoveries The chilling discoveries began with the disappearance of Gilbert. “During the months that followed her disappearance, canine officers incorporated training exercises into searches of the area surrounding Gilbert’s last known location,” officials said on, a site devoted to the unsolved murders. “During one exercise, on Dec. 11, 2010, a set of skeletal remains was discovered in an area near Gilgo Beach off Ocean Parkway. “The remains located would later be identified as Melissa Barthelemy.” Two days later, the remains of three more Craigslist escorts were found nearby, spaced about 500 feet apart from one another, according to police. Those women were subsequently identified as Maureen Brainard-Barnes, Megan Waterman and Amber Lynn Costello. All four women were reported missing between July 2007 and September 2010. Brainard-Barnes, 25, had last been seen in New York City in June 2007 and Barthelemy, 24, had been reported missing in July 2009 in the Bronx. Waterman, 22, had last been seen in early June 2010 at a Holiday Inn Express in Hauppauge, New York, and Costello, 27, had vanished after leaving her North Babylon home in early September 2010, authorities said. >> Read more trending news A fifth set of partial remains belonging to Jessica Taylor were found several miles east of where the first four women, designated the “Gilgo Four,” were found. Suffolk County officials said some of Taylor’s remains had been found nearly eight years earlier in Manorville, in a wooded area on the northwest corner of Halsey Manor Road and the Long Island Expressway. “The female’s head and hands were severed and missing,” authorities said. “Additional remains of Taylor were discovered on March 29, 2011, along Ocean Parkway during the search for Shannan Gilbert.” Three more sets of remains – including those of Mack – were found April 4, 2011, during the Gilbert search. Like those of Taylor, Mack’s remains were partial. Part of her body had been found by hunters in a wooded area off Halsey Manor Road in November 2000, three years before the majority of Taylor’s remains were found in the same area. Searchers who found Mack’s remains in April 2011 also found the remains of an unidentified toddler nearby, as well as those of an unidentified Asian man. Investigators hope that genetic genealogy can help solve their identities, as well. “One week later, while searching further west along Ocean Parkway in Nassau County, two additional sets of skeletonized remains were found approximately 7 miles away from the discovery on April 4,” police officials said. “One set is believed to be the mother of the toddler found a week earlier. The other set of partial remains was linked through DNA analysis to remains found in Davis Park on Fire Island in 1996.” All 11 murders remain unsolved. NBC News reported in January that Hart said Gilbert’s killing did not fit the pattern of the other 10 but that investigators were not ruling out the possibility that all the victims were killed by the same person.
  • The Boston Marathon will not be held this year, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh announced Thursday afternoon. Walsh announced earlier this year that the marathon would be postponed until Sept. 14 amid coronavirus mitigation measures, but he said it “became increasingly clear” that the date would not be feasible. A virtual Boston Marathon will be held in its place this year, the Boston Athletic Association announced. All participants who were originally registered for the April 20 event will be offered a full refund of their entry fee associated with the race and will have the opportunity to participate in the virtual alternative to the 124th Boston Marathon, which can be run any time from Sept. 7–14. Participants in the virtual 2020 Boston Marathon will be required to complete the 26.2-mile distance within a six-hour time period and provide proof of timing to the B.A.A. All athletes who complete the virtual race will receive an official Boston Marathon program, participant T-shirt, medal and runner’s bib. “Our top priority continues to be safeguarding the health of the community, as well as our staff, participants, volunteers, spectators, and supporters,” said Tom Grilk, CEO of the B.A.A. “While we cannot bring the world to Boston in September, we plan to bring Boston to the world for an historic 124th Boston Marathon.” More than 30,000 people run the Boston Marathon each year, and millions of others come into town to participate in the festivities. Travel is planned months if not a year in advance. Walsh said running the marathon without spectators “was never discussed.” The hundreds of businesses along the parade route spend months preparing for the marathon in April and also count on the more than $200 million the race brings to the greater Boston area. Countless events -- sporting and otherwise -- have been canceled or postponed this month as response times to the disease’s spread have lagged across the country.

Washington Insider

  • With a series of studies raising questions about the side effects and the efficacy of a drug pushed by President Donald Trump for use against the Coronavirus, the VA has curtailed its use of the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroqine in Veterans Affairs medical facilities. 'Last week, we only used it three times,' VA Secretary Robert Wilkie told a House Appropriations Committee hearing, a very small number compared to the over 1,300 vets who have received the drug for Coronavirus treatment. 'We started ratcheting it down as we went more to remdesivir and we went more to the convalescent plasma,' Wilkie said, as he took fire from Democrats over using the drug in the first place. 'It's very disappointing to me that the VA was using that drug,' said Rep. Nita Lowey (D-NY), the chair of the panel, as she slammed the President's embrace of hydroxychloroquine as 'wishful thinking' by someone who is not a medical expert. 'What is astounding to me is the VA is still insisting on providing this drug to veterans,' said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL). “We have ratcheted down as we've brought more treatments online,” Wilkie said at another point.  “And I expect that to continue.” Wilkie said he spoken this week with the government's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who told reporters in recent days that hydroxychloroquine should no longer be used by doctors. The VA chief though couched Fauci's advice as one which would leave the door open to possible use of the malaria drug as more evidence comes in. 'The rest of the world is all over the map,' Wilkie said of the use of hydroxychloroquine against the Coronavirus. 'France banned it, and then the government of India said it absolutely essential for them.' The message from the White House continued to be much more upbeat than Dr. Fauci. “It's important to note that this drug has been safely used by millions of people for a long time,” said White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Thursday.