More than half a million dollars has so far been raised for a 5-year-old boy thrown off a balcony at the Mall of America.
Landen Hoffman has been fighting for his life since a man on Friday threw him over a railing of a third-floor balcony as he enjoyed a day at the Minneapolis mall with his mother and a friend, officials and loved ones said.
“She was screaming ‘Everyone pray, everyone pray. Oh my God, my baby, someone threw him over the edge,’” witness Brian Johnson said of Landen’s mother to WCCO-TV.
The little boy plummeted 40 feet to a lower level and sustained life-threatening injuries.
To offset medical costs, family friends set up a GoFundMe page with a fundraising goal of $500,000.
“Landen has a very long road to recovery ahead of him,” the page noted. “He has many surgeries ahead in his life to try to get back to a normal life for a young, vibrant boy.”
The page nearly met its $500,000 goal in its first day live, and by Monday afternoon, it had surpassed $590,000.
“We are all completely overwhelmed with the love and support that has come our way during this tragic time,” wrote the page’s organizer.
After allegedly throwing Landen off the balcony, the suspect, identified by police as Emmanuel Aranda, fled the scene. Police arrested him at the mall’s light rail train station.
He has been charged with one felony count of attempted premeditated first-degree murder and is due in court on Tuesday.
Aranda allegedly said he had made efforts to talk with women in the mall that day, but after being rejected, he lashed out and became aggressive, according to a criminal complaint.
Police said Aranda told them he planned to kill an adult because they usually stand near the balcony, but that did not work out, so he chose the young boy instead.
“This was a senseless act and words cannot truly express our profound shock and sadness,” the Mall of America said in a statement on Friday. “Our immediate and only concern is for the well-being of the family and the child, as well as for any individuals who may have witnessed the incident.”
Aranda apparently has a history of troubling behavior at the mall, which is the U.S.’s largest, drawing 40 million shoppers annually.
On July 4, 2015, he was allegedly seen throwing things off the upper level of the shopping center. That same year, he was accused of throwing glasses in a restaurant. He was banned from the mall for an entire year.
Landen was taken to Children’s Hospital in critical condition.
“He had a peaceful sleep and is still continuing to fight his courageous battle, he's a strong survivor!” the GoFundMe page’s organizer wrote Sunday.