A 52-year-old Minnesota man was charged on Monday with killing a teenager and stabbing four others at a popular summer tubing spot in Wisconsin during a confrontation with a separate group who, according to the man, started as he searched the river for a lost phone.
The man, Nicolae Miu, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, has been charged with first-degree intentional homicide in the Saturday murder of the teenager, identified by his family as Isaac Schuman, 17, of Stillwater, Minnesota. Mr. Miu also faced four counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide, a felony, according to a criminal complaint filed Monday in the Circuit Court of St. Croix County, Wis.
The complaint describes a bloody scene in which Mr Miu ‘wagged’ a knife at a group of youths during an argument on the Apple River, a tributary of the St. Croix River, frequented by tubers and visiting campers near. St. Paul and Minneapolis.
According to the documents, Mr Miu – described in the complaint as “an older man” with gray hair, weighing around 250 pounds – was filmed running towards a group shirtless and wearing a snorkel. In the video, the group can be heard telling him to “walk away,” according to the documents.
According to interviews with witnesses and victims, Mr. Miu was “disturbing a group of minors on their tubes”. According to the documents, members of this group were “screaming for help from others floating in the nearby river.”
Witnesses said a group of people came to stand between Mr. Miu and the miners and told him to leave. They also said he punched or slapped a woman in the second group facing him. Witnesses said Mr Miu was then punched by a man and fell into the river, documents show.
Mr. Miu then began “stabbing several people who were near him”, according to the complaint. They described the knife as having a three inch silver blade. After the stabbing, “there was enough blood in the river that the water turned red in places,” according to court documents.
Authorities have not released the names of the victims. The teenager was pronounced dead after being taken to hospital. The four other victims were in stable condition, authorities said.
In an interview with authorities, Mr. Miu claimed he was acting in self-defense and that he first approached the group because he was looking for a lost phone and believed that one of them they might have found it.
In a statement, the teenager’s family described him as an honor roll student looking forward to his final year at Stillwater High School. They said he had hoped to earn a degree in electrical engineering and in the past year had started a car and boat detailing business.
“Isaac walked into each room with a big smile, an infectious, positive aura, and lifted everyone around him,” his family said in the statement. “He had an incredibly bright future ahead of him and we are all heartbroken and devastated.”
The injured were described as two men, ages 20 and 22, from Luck, Wisconsin; a female, 24, from Burnsville, Minnesota; and a 22-year-old man from Elk River, Minn., Sheriff Scott Knudson of the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office said in a statement Sunday.
On a GoFundMe page, Ryhley Mattison said she was among those injured in the attack.
Deputies waded about 100 yards through waist-deep water to reach the victims, who were also helped by others in the river and emergency medical workers, Sheriff Knudson said. Mr. Miu had left the scene and was taken into custody at a tuber exit point, the sheriff’s office said in a statement.
Mr. Miu was with a group of friends, including his wife, Sondra Dee Miu, according to documents. She told authorities that she and her husband arrived at the river around 10:45 a.m. and that at some point he left their group to try to find “the phone of a member of their group who had been lost “.
Ms. Miu told authorities that while her husband was looking for the phone, a group of men came out of their tube and began beating Mr. Miu, and that two members of his group ran towards Mr. Miu and the men. who were wrestling. Ms Miu said ‘all she heard was screaming’ and she did not see what happened, according to documents.
She told authorities that Mr. Miu had a knife in his pocket that was not very big. “These guys took him,” she said, adding that her husband told her a group of people “called him a pedophile and attacked him.”
After the stabbings, he went up the river and into the woods, according to the complaint. Authorities arrested him after receiving reports around 4:45 p.m. that witnesses had spotted him, documents show.
Jeremiah Harrelson, a public defender who represented Mr Miu at Monday’s hearing, said he could not comment further on the case because he no longer represents him.
In an interview with Brandie Hart, a lieutenant with the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office, Mr. Miu said he worked as a mechanical engineer, had a bachelor’s degree in engineering and math, and he had “never had any trouble with the law”. before.”
He said his actions were an act of ‘self-defence’ and he was looking for a lost mobile phone which he said was inside a ‘float’ – one of the bags provided to tubers for prevent valuables from sinking.
The group, he said, had sworn at him for being in the water with his scuba gear, calling him a “child molester”.
“They attacked me,” he told Lt. Hart, according to the complaint. “It all happened so fast.”
A preliminary hearing is scheduled for August 12.
Vimal Patel contributed report.