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More than $500K raised for boy thrown from Mall of America balcony

By Allen Cone
More than $500K raised for boy thrown from Mall of America balcony
The Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., has three levels on the west side. Photo by Runner1928/Wikimedia Commons

April 14 (UPI) -- Three days after a 5-year-old boy sustained life-threatening injuries when he was flung off a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., a GoFundMe campaign has raised more than $500,000.

The fundraising page was posted on Saturday for Landen Hoffmann of Woodbury, Minn. In a little more than one day, $436,245 of a $500,000 goal was donated by 12,816 people. It grew to $566,371 by mid-day Monday.

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On Friday morning, Landen was grabbed and thrown nearly 40 feet from the balcony onto the mall's tile flooring. A stranger, Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, of Minneapolis, has been charged with attempted homicide.

Aranda's previous ban from the mall was not in effect at the time of the incident. Bloomington police Chief Jeffrey Potts told CNN on Saturday.

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The suspect has a history of misdemeanor convictions, including some cases handled through a mental health court. Two misdemeanors stemmed from incidents at the mall in 2015.

"We feel confident saying that the suspect threw the child off of the third floor," Potts told CNN. "But as to why he did that, is still something we're looking into and trying to figure out."

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Aranda, who police said took off running after the incident, was found inside the mall's transit station and arrested.

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"He was enjoying a day at the Mall of America with his mom and friend on Friday morning when a stranger maliciously grabbed him and threw him over the 3rd floor balcony for no apparent reason," according to the post on GoFundMe. "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. "

Authorities described the injuries as life-threatening but he is in stable condition at Children's Hospital Minneapolis.

Noah Hanneman, a family friend who set up the GoFundMe page, said that Landen remains in stable condition, "contrary to the rumors and attention seekers out there stating that he has passed."

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Landen "has a very long road to recovery ahead of him. ... He has many surgeries ahead in his life to try to get back to a normal life for a young, vibrant boy."

Hanneman said his picture has been removed from the page because there have been "multiple people trying to copy this GoFundMe page and the family is still requesting privacy and has elected at this point not to share photos at this time."'

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The mall is the largest shopping center in the United States in terms of floor area, at 4,870,000 square feet, according to worldatlas.com.

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The mall opened in 1992 with 330 stores, according to the mall website, and has grown to more than 500 retailers. The mall is located on the site of the former Metropolitan Stadium, where the Minnesota Vikings and Minnesota Twins used to play.

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