(Reuters) – A little boy, critically injured when a stranger threw him off a balcony at a Minnesota mall last spring, is back in school and walking normally, after numerous surgeries, physical therapy and an outpouring of public support, according to a family friend.
Landen Hoffman fell nearly 40 feet (12 meters) onto the concourse of the Mall of America in Bloomington last April when he was 5 years old. He was randomly picked up and thrown from the third floor by a man who police said was venting his anger.
When he finally came back home in August, his legs were uneven and he was limping, family friend Noah Hanneman said on Friday on the GoFundMe page that raised more than $1 million for Landen’s medical expenses from more than 29,000 donors.
After much physical therapy, he is now walking “perfectly,” Hanneman said.
“He loves being back to school and going to kindergarten at the same school his twin brother and sister go to,” Hanneman wrote. “He gets out of the car every morning happy and blows kisses all the way in! He’s a strong, happy boy.”
The man who admitted throwing Landen from the balcony, 24-year-old Emmanuel Aranda, is serving a 19-year prison term he accepted in June after pleading guilty in Hennepin County District Court to attempted first-degree murder.
Aranda told investigators he had been visiting the mall for years to try to talk to women, but was rejected and became angry. He said he initially intended to kill an adult, but chose the boy instead.
Despite the horrific ordeal, Hanneman said Landen has “good memories” of the friends, family members and medical professionals who helped him in his recovery.
“Landen knows people all over the world are praying for him and he loves all the cards he keeps getting in the mail,” he wrote. “There was one bad person, but from that came millions of Good people!”
(Reporting by Peter Szekely in New York; Editing by David Gregorio)