A little boy that was thrown over a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America in April is finally moved out of the intensive care unit to a rehab facility. The little boy named Landen has undergone numerous surgeries and medical procedures for injuries he sustained from the fall. His family thanked everyone for their support and blamed the devil for the crimes committed against their son.
Emmanuel Aranda, the perpetrator, was sentenced to 19-years in prison in June after pleading guilty to first-degree attempted murder.
According to a GoFundMe set up by a family friend, Landen is moving out of the ICU after more than four months. The boy was admitted to Children’s Hospital on April 20 following a horrific crime.
On April 20, Emmanuel Aranda went to the Mall of America with the sole purpose of murdering someone. During his sentencing hearing in June, prosecutors shared that Aranda went to the mall fueled by his anger toward women. According to statements made by Aranda to police, he was angry at women at the mall for ignoring his advances.
When he entered the mall, Emmanuel Aranda was unable to find an adult to throw over the balcony. Instead, he located a five-year-old child walking with his family. Witnesses stated that Aranda ran up to the boy and flung him over the third-floor balcony.
Despite the length of the fall, the boy survived but was in grave condition. Paramedics rushed Landen to Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis, where he remained for more than four months in the intensive care unit.
According to the GoFundMe, Landen underwent multiple surgeries to repair broken arms, and fractures in his face and skull. Additionally, doctors removed his spleen, fluid from his lungs and stomach, and placed a stent in a vein that runs through the liver.
After months of procedures and surgeries, doctors determined Landen was stable enough to move to a rehab facility. His family says he will move to another hospital in the area with a dedicated wing to aid in his rehabilitation.
The family wrote,
“We are happy to report that our son is no longer in intensive care and has been moved to an inpatient, physical rehab program at another hospital to help him continue to heal and focus on the next phase of his recovery.”
In June, victim impact statements written by the mother were shared in court. The mother wrote,
“We will live our lives to the fullest filled with joy and fun and you chose to waste your life. We wish you could experience the pain and suffering that you inflicted on my boy,” Landen’s mother wrote.
On the GoFundMe, the family friend shared the mother’s full statement, which included that she has forgiven Aranda for his actions.
“I want you to know I forgive you. Not because what you did was okay, not because I want to; but because God wants me to. I’m not letting you take any part of our family. You’re not taking our love, our joy, our peace; you’re not taking anything! I refuse to be full of anger and hatred, I refuse to let you take my joy.”
The mother went on to blame the devil for causing Aranda to act out violently against her son.
“You get to take nothing from us. You chose to listen to the Devil that day. I don’t get to judge you or hate you.”
While the mother blamed Satan, the cause of Emmanuel Aranda’s action related to severe mental illnesses he suffered through for years. Aranda lived in a house for individuals with disabilities for some time. Additionally, he received services through the county related to his mental health.
In the criminal case against Emmanuel Aranda, there are two victims. Aranda is a victim of the inadequate services and supports available to people struggling with mental illness. Rather than receiving the help he needed, he bounced around from place to place. Due to Aranda not receiving the treatment he needed, his disease progressed to the point that he became filled with murderous rage.
The crime against Landen is absolutely unspeakable. He has lived through countless surgeries and months of hospitalizations. Additionally, his life will be forever altered by the choices of Emmanueal Aranda on that April day.
What he did to the boy is horrific, and Aranda should be punished for his actions. However, one wonders if better services and treatment of his mental illness could have prevented his crime. While Landen’s mother blames a fictitious monster below, the truth is her son is the casualty of a broken mental health system in the United States.
The GoFundMe for Landen has raised more than $1 million to pay for his hospitalizations and rehabilitation expenses. Thankfully, the family will have a nice financial cushion to focus on his recovery during a challenging time.
*Katie Joy is a columnist and hosts Without A Crystal Ball on Patheos Non-Religious Channel. She writes articles on parenting, disability advocacy, debunking pseudoscience, atheism, and crimes against women and children.
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