MINNEAPOLIS – People have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to help a 5-year-old boy in critical condition after police say a 24-year-old man threw him over the third-floor railing at the Mall of America in Minnesota last week.
As of Tuesday evening, creators of a GoFundMe effort have raised more than $700,000 for the 5-year-old boy, and a small mountain of toys and stuffed animals at the mall continues to grow, WCCO reports.
The fundraising team identified the boy by his first name, Landen, saying he is “the sweetest kindest 5 year old you will ever meet.” Landen is reportedly still in critical condition but is “continuing to fight his courageous battle.”
The man accused of throwing him over the railing, Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, appeared in court Tuesday and faces a charge of attempted pre-meditated murder.
Aranda’s uncle, who said his nephew has a history of mental problems, told WCCO he and his family are praying for Landen’s family and called the incident “gut-wrenching.”
The 5-year-old’s family is requesting privacy but are grateful “for all of the prayers, love and support,” according to an update posted to the GoFundMe page Monday, that added:
During my most recent visit with Landen, holding his hand revealed a calm and warm aura in his room, one that likely is contributed from all of the immense outpouring of prayer and support from everyone across the globe. His condition has very little change at this point, but we are hoping to get some good news back from some upcoming tests in the next few days.
The gruesome case has stunned Minnesotans, Hennepin County Attorney Mike 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 allegedly threw the boy from the third level of the mall’s interior to the first-level floor, nearly 40 feet below.
Police said Aranda ran away, but was found in the mall’s transit station and arrested.
The boy, who has not been publicly identified, remains in critical condition, his family said in a statement through the Bloomington Police Department.
“The family sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support from the community,” the statement said. “Please respect their great need and desire for privacy.”
Police: The suspect said he wanted to kill an adult
According to a criminal complaint, the boy and his mother were outside the Rain Forest Café when Aranda came up close to them.
The mother had never seen Aranda before, and she asked if she and her son should move.
Instead, Aranda picked up the boy and threw him over the railing, the complaint states.
Aranda told police he had come to the mall a day earlier intending to kill an adult, but that did not “work out,” according to the complaint.
So he returned Friday and chose the boy instead.
Aranda told police he knew what he was planning to do was wrong. He explained he had visited the mall for years, trying to speak to women there, but they rejected him. Aranda said that made him lash out.
Suspect had been banned from the mall
Court records show Aranda had been banned from the mall for about a year in mid-2015. He was convicted of two misdemeanors stemming from incidents there in 2015.
Aranda was charged in July 2015 with causing damage inside stores after he threw items off the upper level of the mall to the lower level, court records obtained by CNN affiliate WCCO show.
Three months later, he was accused of throwing glasses of ice water and tea at a woman in a restaurant at the mall after she refused to buy him food, the records show.
Police have also encountered Aranda at a Minneapolis library. In August 2015, witnesses saw Aranda smashing computers at the library, causing about $5,000 in damage, according to a 2015 complaint.
Officers found him at a bus stop across the street and arrested him without incident.
In that case, Aranda told authorities he got “angry after he read something on the Facebook.” So he smashed five computers, screens and keyboards, court records show, citing a recorded statement.
“He said he has some anger issues and told the officer that it does not happen all the time,” the complaint states.
CNN Wire contributed to this report.