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Attorney Stephen Tillitt, center, who represents the family of the boy thrown from a third-floor balcony at the Mall of America, speaks with reporters outside the Hennepin County Jail on Tuesday. Matt Sepic / MPR News

Family updates condition of boy injured in Mall of America attack

BROOKLYN PARK, Minn. — The 5-year-old boy hurt when he was thrown from the third floor of the Mall of America remains in intensive care and sedated, his condition watched closely.

That's according to Steve Tillitt, attorney for the family, who released a brief statement Tuesday. Neither Tillitt nor the statement confirmed suggestions in a video posted online, made by the pastor at the boy's grandparent's church.

Mac Hammond told his congregation that the boy's grandfather told him the boy had "zero evidence of brain damage ... no spinal cord injury, no nerve damage." Hammond, pastor at Living Word Christian Center in Brooklyn Park, called it "truly a miracle" in the video.

Tillitt declined to characterize the video or Hammond's comments, or say what his clients thought of them.

Instead, Tillitt read a statement from the family:

"We have an important week ahead, with more milestones to accomplish. God's hand is working. Your prayers are working. Our son remains in intensive care, under sedation and under close monitoring as we stay patient to allow him to heal. Thank you for continuing to respect our family's privacy through this unimaginable time. We remain steadfast in our faith and praise God for his miraculous work in our lives, and for your love, prayers and support. Thank you so much and keep praying."

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Tillitt offered only one clarification — that Hammond's comments comparing the boy's injuries to "falling off a bike," referred only to his facial injuries, not his health overall. He repeatedly emphasized the family's wishes to be left alone.

"I know there are many people that are very interested in this," Tillitt said. "And the family is in the position where any comment to confirm or deny would be entering the realm of the privacy they want. To start going into details of any kind, to confirm or deny, it just means the privacy has been intruded upon."

The boy, who has not been publicly identified, was allegedly thrown over the railing on the mall's third floor by a stranger who grabbed him as he stood next to his mother and another woman and her son outside a mall restaurant. He fell about 40 feet and suffered "multiple fractured bones, including his arms and legs, was bleeding from the head and had massive head trauma," according to Hennepin County authorities.

A Minneapolis man, Emmanuel Aranda, 24, is facing attempted murder charges for the April 12 incident. He is being held on $2 million bail. The criminal complaint against him says he had been previously banned from the mall for other incidents. It's not clear if the restriction was still in place when the boy was attacked. Aranda allegedly told investigators that he'd gone to the mall planning to kill someone.

Tillitt said there may be another update on Friday.

A GoFundMe fundraising campaign for the boy's family is close to its $1 million goal after 10 days.

This story originally appeared at: https://www.mprnews.org/story/2019/04/23/attorney-boy-hurt-in-moa-attack-has-important-week-ahead

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