Haley Yamada, ABC News, December 14, 2022
It was any mother’s worst nightmare. In April 2019, Kari Hoffmann witnessed a man toss her 5-year-old son over a third-floor balcony while shopping at a mall. As a result, her son suffered multiple life-threatening injuries including broken arms, a broken leg and skull fractures.
Three and a half years later, after her son made a miraculous recovery, Hoffmann decided she was ready to share her story and spoke first to “Good Morning America” about the incident.
“I was frozen in time until I was able to speak, and now is the time that is right in our lives where we’ve done a lotta healing, where it’s time to move forward with the story of the miracle of Landen,” said Hoffmann.
Hoffmann had taken her son Landen and one of his friends to the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minnesota. She said they had just completed a parent-teacher conference day and were looking for a way to “celebrate” when a stranger approached them.
“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,” said Hoffmann. “He snatched [Landen] and ran. And I was just frozen … It happened so fast. I screamed, ‘No!’ after he was already thrown.”
“I don’t even remember running down the escalators, but I was screaming the whole time, ‘No, Landen’s not gonna die,’ ” she added.
She said the incident quickly drew a crowd. All Hoffmann asked of them was to “pray.”
In May 2019, Emmanuel Aranda, 24, pleaded guilty to attempted first-degree murder and was sentenced to 19 years in prison for the attack. Aranda, who was reportedly banned from the mall on two other instances, said that he was “looking for someone to kill” when he tossed Landen from the balcony.
Hoffmann said she’s forgiven Aranda because “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.”