'Angels Caught Him’: Mom Recalls Moment Son Was Thrown Off Mall Of America Balcony

Credit: David R. Frazier Photolibrary, Inc. / Alamy
A woman whose then-five-year-old son was thrown off a balcony by a stranger at the Mall of America in 2019 has spoken out about the incident.

The horrific ordeal took place in April 2019 and saw a man pick up five-year-old Landen and throw him over a third-floor balcony outside the Rainforest Cafe at the Bloomington, Minn. mall.

The boy's mother, Kari Hoffman, witnessed the shocking act, as well as strangers nearby. He sadly suffered severe head trauma and broke a number of bones in his arms and legs.

Now, in a new interview on Good Morning America, Kari recalls: "We were just looking at the alligator at the Rainforest Café, and a stranger came up and was whispering to these two little boys. And I thought that he was gonna turn this alligator on for them. He snatched [Landen] and ran. And I was just frozen … It happened so fast. I screamed, 'No!' after he was already thrown."

Check out the interview here:

She added: "I don’t even remember running down the escalators, but I was screaming the whole time, ‘No, Landen’s not gonna die.'"

As a crowd began to emerge at the scene, Hoffmann asked onlookers to pray for her little boy.

"I don’t care who was looking. If they were looking, I asked them to pray," she said. "He’s got a heartbeat. He was breathing. We got in the ambulance, and right before they shut the door, he opened his eyes for a second."

The youngster was rushed to the hospital and received treatment for brain trauma. "Listening to him breathing with the machine's beeping was the best sound I've ever heard in my life," Hoffmann went on. "Because that meant he was alive."
Emmanuel Aranda, the man who threw a five-year-old boy over a Mall of America balcony. Credit: Sipa US / Alamy
Landen added: "Some people don't believe it, but I don't care if they do or not. I just care that lots of people care about me, and I care about them too."

Following months of recovery, Landen, now eight, was able to return to school for his first day of kindergarten. Hoffman says her faith allowed her to forgive the man who harmed her son.

She said: "I don't think forgiveness is a feeling, it's a decision you have to make. It's a decision that you have to make so that God can do what he needs to do in your life ... and that was to save Landen."

According to police, the man responsible, 24-year-old Emmanuel Deshawn Aranda, went to the Mall of America "looking for someone to kill" because he'd been rejected by women at the establishment, per a criminal complaint obtained by People.

Aranda was ultimately sentenced to 19 years in prison after pleading guilty to attempted murder.

Last year, the Hoffmans filed a lawsuit against the Mall of America for allowing Ananda onto the property.

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