The man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America is now being held on $2 million dollar bail.
Emmanuel Aranda, 24, of Minneapolis, said little Tuesday during his first court appearance but appeared lucid and followed the court's directions. His bail has been kept at $2 million and a hearing was set for May 14.
Aranda appeared behind a glass partition Tuesday in a courtroom at the Hennepin County jail. He spelled his name and gave his birthdate and address, noting that he had been staying at a shelter. When asked by the judge whether he had any questions, he said, "Not at all."
He has been charged with attempted premeditated first-degree murder for Friday's attack on the 5-year-old, who fell around 40 feet and is still fighting for his life in a Minneapolis hospital with head trauma and multiple broken bones.
Aranda didn't know the victim or his family.
Police say Aranda told them he went to the mall "looking for someone to kill" and chose the boy at random. A complaint, obtained by the Associated Press, points to perceived rejection by women as a possible motive.
"Defendant indicated he had been coming to the Mall for several years and had made efforts to talk to women in the Mall, but had been rejected, and the rejection caused him to lash out and be aggressive," the complaint said.
He has a history of violence at that particular mall.
According to court records, Aranda was involved in two previous incidents at the Mall of America in 2015. In at least one of those cases, he got in trouble for “throwing things off of the upper level of the mall to the lower level,” according to court documents obtained by CBS station WCCO.
He was convicted of fifth-degree assault and was banned from the Mall of America for a year following that incident. He was ordered to undergo psychological evaluation or treatment.
Paul Sellers, the public defender appointed to represent Aranda, said his client has been in mental health court before. He urged the state legislature and those who are calling for aggressive retribution to focus on mental health issues.
"You wonder whether things could be prevented if we spent more on mental health treatment on the front end and mental health options on the front end, instead of always just waiting for bad things to happen and seeking retributive justice," Sellers said after Tuesday's hearing.
Sellers said he's not at liberty to talk about specifics of the case, but noted that he hasn't requested evaluations of his client's mental competence. He said once he gets the state's evidence, he'll work toward the best outcome.
Stephen Tillitt, an attorney representing the victim's family, told reporters the child remains in critical condition. He wasn't authorized to provide specifics but said the boy is beginning a long journey to recovery.
"I've heard it said that every new day is a good day, and, so this is a good day," Tillitt said. He added the family is thankful for the support it has received.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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