Updated: April 14, 10 a.m. | Posted: April 13, 12:50 p.m.
A 5-year-old boy injured Friday when he reportedly was thrown from a third-floor railing at Mall of America remained hospitalized Saturday, as authorities continue to investigate what the Bloomington police chief called a "horrific situation."
A suspect remains in custody and faces a possible charge of attempted murder.
Chief Jeff Potts said at a midday Saturday news conference that the child continues to receive care. The boy's name and condition have not been released; Potts said the family has requested privacy.
"This is a horrific situation," he said. "The family and this child are in our thoughts and prayers, and I know the family appreciates all the thoughts and prayers that they can get from the public ... as they hope for a full recovery of their child."
An online fundraiser for the boy and his family raised more than $250,000 in its first nine hours Saturday. The total stood at more than $375,000 as of Sunday morning.
The organizers of the fundraiser, friends of the boy's family, gave the boy's first name as Landen and described him as "the sweetest, kindest 5-year-old you will ever meet. His soul is soft and gentle and instantly brings a smile to everybody he meets. He is full of energy and life and enjoys soccer, playing with friends and family and playing hockey with his brother and sister."
They said he suffered life-threatening injuries but is in stable condition and has "a very long road to recovery ahead of him."
Police said the victim and his family are from the Twin Cities area.
Officers were called shortly after 10 a.m. Friday to the mall's southeast court on reports that a child had fallen from the third floor to the first floor — a fall of about 40 feet, police said. Witnesses told officers that the child may have been thrown or pushed and that a male suspect had taken off running.
Potts said the 24-year-old suspect, who was arrested at the mall's transit station, has been cooperative with investigators and remains in custody at the Hennepin County Jail.
Potts said investigators continue to work the case this weekend, and he expects to turn the case over to the Hennepin County Attorney's Office on Monday for a decision on formal charges. MPR News typically does not publish the names of suspects until prosecutors have charged them.
"We do not believe that the suspect knew the family or the victim. (From) our investigative work and witnesses that we've spoken to — we feel confident saying the suspect threw the child off the third floor," Potts said. "But as to why he did that — it's still something we're looking into and trying to figure out."
Court records show the suspect was charged following two previous run-ins with police and security officers at the megamall.
In one case, he pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor charge of interfering with a peace officer in connection with a July 4, 2015, incident where he was seen throwing objects from the upper level off the mall.
Potts said Bloomington police had not had any contact with the suspect since 2015, until Friday's incident.
Court documents also show that the mall assault suspect was convicted of property damage for smashing five computers at Sumner Library in Minneapolis in August of 2015, causing about $5,000 in damage.
According to the complaint in that case, he told library security guards that he "has some anger issues" and "became angry after he read something" on Facebook.
Court records show the man was again charged with misdemeanor assault in 2017 and failed to appear at a hearing. He had an outstanding warrant for his arrest at the time he allegedly assaulted the boy at the Mall of America.
At Saturday's news conference, Potts commended the work of first responders and bystanders at the scene on Friday, one of whom tried to stop the suspect after the incident.
"It goes without saying, but any time you deal with a situation like this, it's very difficult. But when you add in the element that this was a 5-year-old child — it makes it very, very difficult on everybody that was involved," he said.
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