Minnesota man charged in fatal stabbing along Wisconsin river
The St. Croix County Sheriff's Office said a 17-year-old boy from Stillwater, Minn., died from stab wounds suffered during Saturday's attack along the Apple River near Somerset, Wis.
HUDSON, Wis. -- A bloody confrontation Saturday on the Apple River that left a Minnesota teenager dead and four people with critical stab wounds apparently began with a misunderstanding over why a 52-year-old man was snorkeling near tubes carrying young women.
Nicolae Miu, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, was charged Monday in St. Croix County Circuit Court with first-degree intentional homicide in the death of Isaac Schuman, a 17-year-old rising senior at Stillwater Area High School.
He also is charged with four counts of attempted first-degree intentional homicide.
According to the criminal complaint, Miu was part of a group floating the river earlier in the day. He later returned to the river with snorkel gear to search for a cell phone in a waterproof floating case that a member of his party had lost.
While he searched, people he didn’t know began insulting him, calling him a “child molester” and a “pedophile,” according to statements Miu and his wife gave to investigators. In a video obtained by authorities, someone accuses Miu of “looking for little girls.”
The encounter became physical, according to the complaint, when Miu punched a young woman who was part of a group confronting him. A male then punched Miu backward into the water.
“From the video it does appear to show people on three sides of Nicolae at different distances. The video and elapsed time shows opportunity for Nicolae to leave the confrontation,” the complaint states.
One of the women then slapped Miu, and the same male shoved him, according to the complaint. That’s when the video shows Miu stabbing the male in the stomach.
Members of the group continued to shove Miu as he stabbed four more people in the stomach, the video purportedly shows.
Miu, a mechanical engineer at Ritchie Engineering Co. in Minneapolis, spoke with an investigator at length and described his actions as “self-defense.”
“Nic said he didn’t know what happened and asked if I could tell him,” according to the complaint. “I told Nic that four individuals sustained injuries and one person died. Nic said, ‘Oh no’ and asked if the individuals sustained injuries because they were fighting with each other, and I said I didn’t know. Nic then put his head in his hands and said, ‘Oh my god. Nic
said his whole life was ‘down the tubes.’ Nic said he was sorry for how this ended up.”
Miu told police that the incident started after someone in the group took his goggles and snorkel and threw them in the river, and someone else “grabbed his swim trunks and tried to pull his trunks down,” the complaint states. Miu said he “’grabbed onto’ the kid that tried pulling his shorts down and saw that he (the kid) had a knife on him. Nic said that he also saw someone had a longer knife that looked like a kitchen knife. Nic told me he didn’t know what happened to either knife, but when the one kid attacked him, he took that knife from the individual. Nic described the knife he took as a smaller knife.”
Miu made his first court appearance Monday in Hudson, where bond was set at $1 million. He faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison if convicted on any of the charges.
Miu initially fled the scene but was located about a mile upstream some 90 minutes later after being spotted by witnesses, St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said in a statement. A cell phone photo taken around the time of the stabbings helped identify Miu.
A folding pocket knife, which had a black handle, silver blade and silver clip, was found in a closed position along the west bank of the river near where the incident took place, police said.
The victims were tubing on the Apple River about 3:45 p.m. Saturday, about 100 to 200 yards upstream from the Highway 35/64 bridge in Somerset when the attack occurred.
Schuman was an honor-roll student, his father, Scott, wrote in a Facebook post. “He was college bound and ran his own car and boat detailing business. He was an all-around amazing human being and was loved by everyone.”
Schuman was taken by ambulance to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater, where he was pronounced dead.
The other victims, including a 24-year-old Burnsville, Minnesota, woman, a 22-year-old Elk River, Minnesota, man, a 20-year-old man and 22-year-old man, both from Luck, Wisconsin, were evacuated by air and ground ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, Knudson said. Their injuries ranged from critical to serious, the sheriff said, citing a number of torso wounds.
In a statement shared with KARE-11, Isaac was described as a “beloved son and brother” who “entered every room with a big smile, infectiously positive aura, and lifted everyone around him up.”
Schuman “was preparing to apply to several universities to pursue a degree in electrical engineering,” family members wrote. “He was an honor roll student at Stillwater High and had recently become very involved in golf and was planning to try out for the Pony golf team.”
Schuman owned and operated Spiff Mobile Detailing, working with customers in and around Stillwater, Bayport, Woodbury, Lake Elmo and White Bear Lake. “I personally started in 2020 detailing my family and friends’ vehicles as a hobby and began to love what I was doing,” he wrote in a post on the business website. “I collaborated with professional detailers and other detailing enthusiasts, which helped me gain a lot of knowledge about detailing.”
Family members said in the statement provided to KARE that he “was growing the business rapidly and becoming quite an impressive young entrepreneur. He was mature for his age and had a forward-looking mentality that was uncommon for a high school junior.
“He had an incredibly bright future ahead of him, and we are all heartbroken and devastated beyond words that his future has been tragically and senselessly cut short,” according to the statement. “We very much appreciate the overwhelming outpouring of love and support from our friends, Isaac’s friends and the Stillwater community.”
SAHS Principal Rob Bach emailed families Sunday informing them of the death.
“The death of a classmate, even for those who didn’t know them well, will impact each student differently, and all reactions need to be addressed with great care and support. We encourage you to talk with your children about this sad news and help them to process their feelings,” he wrote.
One of the victims, Ryhley Mattison, 24, of Burnsville, said she was tubing with friends when they came across a group asking for help.
“My friends and I went over to see what was going on, and there was an older man there being inappropriate,” Mattison wrote in a post on GoFundMe. “He was asked to leave, but wouldn’t. The older man ended up having a knife and stabbed a few friends of mine and myself included.”
Mattison said she had started the fundraiser on GoFundMe in order to help pay her medical bills. “I lost my job, and I have no way of paying for these medical bills, and I’m struggling to make ends meet right now.”
Tubing activities at River’s Edge were suspended on Sunday, but expected to start again on Monday.
“The River’s Edge family is saddened by this senseless act, and our hearts go out to those affected and their families and friends,” company officials wrote in a Facebook post, calling Saturday a “difficult and tragic day on the river.”
“The response to this incident was immediate and showed the very best of the community, its people, and the volunteers and professionals who serve us,” they wrote. “No amount of preparation can predict or plan for random acts of violence like this, but due to the concerted efforts of all involved, the situation was fully addressed and under control in a short time.”
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