They said he lashed out aggressively after years of coming to the mall to try to speak with women and being rejected.
A Minneapolis man accused of throwing a 5-year-old boy over the third-floor balcony at the Mall of America faces an attempted murder charge, court documents indicated Monday.
A review of video surveillance at the mall showed Aranda walking in the mall on the third floor and looking over the balcony several times before approaching the boy and his mother.
The gruesome case has stunned Minnesotans, Hennepin County Attorney Mike Freeman said.
"He said he planned to kill an adult, because they usually stand near the balcony, but he chose the Victim instead", the complaint said.
When questioned by Bloomington investigators, police say Aranda told them he had formed a plan to kill someone at the mall the previous day, but that it "did not work out".
According to the criminal complaint, about 10:15 a.m. Friday, the victim and his mother were outside the Rain Forest Cafe on the mall's third floor. Medical personnel said he had multiple fractured bones in his arms and legs, was bleeding from the head and had massive head trauma.
He was located on a light rail train at the mall, waiting for it to depart, according to the complaint.
"That a child, with his mother, at a safe public area like a mall, could be violently attacked for no reason is chilling for everyone", Freeman said. She said she asked him if they were in his way and should move, and he picked up the child without warning and threw him off the balcony, according to the complaint.
The Hennepin County Attorney's Office released the following statement on behalf of the victim's family, "The family sincerely appreciates the outpouring of support from the community".
Prosecutors say Aranda then ran, pushing to a wall a witness who tried to stop him. The child is now in critical condition and the family is beginning a long journey to recovery. A GoFundMe page set up for the child, named Landen, had attracted almost $600,000 in donations as of Monday.
Aranda has two past convictions for assaults at the mall, both in 2015, including one in which he threw a glass of water and glass of tea at a woman who refused to buy him something.
Aranda told police he knew what he was planning to do was wrong.
Prosecutors intend to pursue a longer sentence based on the aggravating factors of particular cruelty, the vulnerability of the boy and committing the violent act in front of other children and the boy's mother.
Court records obtained by PEOPLE show that Aranda was convicted of fifth-degree assault and interfering with an officer of the peace, and was ordered not to return to the property for one year.