On Air
0:00
0:00
Open In Popup
MPR News

Man pleads guilty in mall attack against child

Share story

A giant glass star stands outside the new entrance
The Mall of America in Bloomington is seen in November 2015.
Tim Nelson | MPR News
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda
Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, who was arrested in connection with an incident at the Mall of America where a 5-year-old boy plummeted three floors Friday, April 12, 2019, after being pushed or thrown from a balcony.
Bloomington Police Department via AP

Updated: 3 p.m. | Posted: 11:02 a.m.

A man who reportedly told investigators that 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 and faces 19 years in prison.

Emmanuel Aranda of Minneapolis pleaded guilty to attempted premeditated first-degree murder in the April 12 attack. The child suffered head trauma and multiple broken bones but survived.

Aranda, 24, will be sentenced June 3. 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.

Aranda was arrested moments after the attack as he waited to board a light-rail train at the mall, and police say he had quickly admitted to it.

A criminal complaint filed soon after the attack said 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.

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 that Aranda had been ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment after those assaults, and his attorney Paul Sellers said Aranda had been in mental health court.

Sellers did not ask for hearings to determine whether Aranda was competent to stand trial in the attempted murder case, although he said later that a review of Aranda's history would "show a pretty sad state of the lack of mental health care provided to people in this country." 

After the hearing, Sellers said Aranda was mentally competent enough to proceed  and that it was "absolutely, 100 percent" Aranda's decision to plead guilty. "He went into the courtroom and accepted full responsibility."

Barring "something unbelievably unusual," Aranda will be out of prison in about 12 years, he said.

Aranda spoke quietly during the hearing while giving yes-or-no answers to questions aimed at making sure he understood what he was admitting.

The child plunged almost 40 feet and suffered head trauma and multiple broken bones. His family released a statement in late April saying he was alert and no longer in critical condition. On Monday, the family said he continues to heal.

MPR News reporter Alisa Roth contributed to this report.