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By LeAnn R. Ralph
HUDSON — Bail has been set at $1 million cash in St. Croix County Circuit Court for a Minnesota man charged in connection with an incident on the Apple River that left one dead and four injured.
Nicolae Miu, age 52, of Prior Lake, Minnesota, made an initial appearance before Judge Michael R. Waterman August 1.
Miu is charged with one count of first degree intentional homicide and four counts of attempted first degree homicide after allegedly attacking five people with a knife on the Apple River in the Town of Somerset about 3:45 p.m. Saturday, July 30.
A 17-year-old male from Stillwater was pronounced dead after being transported to Lakeview Hospital in Stillwater. Two of the victims were flown to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, and two were taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital, according to a news release from the St. Croix County Sheriff’s Department.
In addition to the 17-year-old, the victims included a 20-year-old man from Luck, a 22-year-old man from Luck, a 24-year-old woman from Burnsville, Minnesota, and a 22-year-old man from Elk River, Minnesota.
According to online court records, Miu does not qualify for a public defender.
A status conference is scheduled for August 5.
A preliminary hearing in the case is scheduled in St. Croix County Circuit Court August 12.
According to the news release from the sheriff’s department, the St. Croix County Emergency Communication Center received a call about 3:47 p.m. July 30, reporting that several people had been stabbed on the Apple River while recreational tubing, just upstream from the state Highway 35/64 bridge in the Town of Somerset.
Deputies arrived and located five people with stab wounds to their mid-sections.
According to the criminal complaint, deputies who responded to the Apple River found one victim without vital signs and with a puncture wound in the upper abdomen near his left breast. Victim 1 was later pronounced deceased.
Victim 2 had a slash wound to his abdomen that was exposing internal organs from the inside of his body.
Victim 3 had a stab wound to the lower left abdomen.
Victim 4 had a laceration on his stomach and a puncture wound to his upper left torso.
Victim 5 had a stab wound to the upper left side abdomen.
The suspect was described an older man with gray hair, weighing approximately 250 pounds, according to the complaint.
An hour later, the communications center received reports from witnesses of a possible sighting of the suspect down river at the exit point at Prospect Park.
Nicolae Miu was taken into custody without incident, the complaint states.
An investigator spoke with Miu’s wife, who said they had arrived at Rivers Edge Campground around 10:45 a.m., and that she, her husband and several other people started their float down the river around 11:30 a.m. or noon, according to the complaint.
Her husband left the group to find a cell phone that one of them had lost. Miu had used some “scuba” gear to look for the phone in the water, and Miu’s wife said she had seen a group of guys on tubes where Miu was looking for the phone.
Miu returned once and said he was going back to look for the phone again. When Miu returned the second time to look for the phone, the group of guys got off their tubes and started hitting Miu. Two members of their party started toward Miu and the fight. Miu’s wife said she heard screaming and that the three came walking back, according to the complaint.
Miu’s wife said she did not see what had happened and that the other members of their group were never involved in the confrontation.
When asked if Miu was known to carry a weapon, Miu’s wife said he had a knife in his pocket, that “it wasn’t very big,” and that her husband had said “those guys grabbed it from him,” according to the complaint.
Miu’s wife said that her husband had told her that they swung the knife at him and that he grabbed it and moved it away. He said the other group had been calling him a “pedophile” and had attacked him. By the time police were arriving, she observed someone who appeared to be receiving CPR and that she did not think Miu had been there long enough to harm anyone and estimated five minutes.
Miu’s wife said her husband kept the knife clipped onto his pocket near his thigh, the complaint states.
Witnesses and victims said during interviews with investigators that a man had been bothering a group of juveniles on their tubes, and the group of juveniles were yelling for help, according to the complaint.
A group of people came and stood in between Miu and the juveniles and told him to leave. The witnesses said the group talking to Miu had formed a half moon around him with “a route of egress from the confrontation.”
The witnesses said Miu punched or slapped a woman with the group confronting him and that Miu was then punched by a male and fell into the river.
The witnesses said Miu began stabbing multiple individuals near him, and the knife was described as having an approximately three-inch silver blade, with a silver clip, handle and was described as a folding knife, the complaint states.
A knife with a black handle, silver blade, a silver clip and folded in the closed position was located along the west bank of the river near where the incident took place, according to the complaint.
Investigators were able to review a video that had been taken on the river.
According to the summary of the video in the criminal complaint, Miu, who was shirtless and carrying goggles with a snorkel attached, approached a group of people and grabbed onto their tubes, and the people are telling Miu to “get away.”
Miu walks around the tubes and appears to be looking for something and then begins to walk away, turns back and says something while pointing at the group.
The camera pans and shows more people converging around Miu and yelling at him to walk away.
In the video, people are saying that Miu was “looking for little girls,” according to the complaint.
A larger group of people come toward the area, and multiple people are yelling at Miu, and it appears that at least one person touched his shoulder.
Miu then appears to be confronted by two women.
“While this conversation is happening, in the video it is observed the clip of the knife in Nicolae’s right cargo pocket. Nicolae’s right hand appears to be touching the knife. Soon after, while in conversation, Nicolae removes the knife from his pocket and opens the knife, exposing the blade. Nicolae then holds the knife down at his right side,” the complaint states.
More people converge on Miu, and the camera shows him falling backward into the water. While Miu is lying in the water, he is slapped with an open hand on the left side of his face. The video shows Miu holding a small silver bladed knife with the blade erect.
While Miu appears to be getting back to his feet, he is shoved in the back by another individual. Miu emerges from the water with the knife in his right hand. The individual appears to be about to shove Miu again, and Miu stabs the individual in the abdomen while being shoved back into the water on his back, according to the complaint.
The video shows people touching and shoving Miu while he continues to make stabbing motions. As the video pans out, Miu runs away to the southwest.
“The video captures a chaotic scene, and it is observed wounded individuals laying in the river. As the video is panning around, it appears to briefly capture a male laying in the river and a male matching the description of Nicolae appears to run up to him. Briefly observed is this individual that matches the description of Nicolae learning over him as the individual is facing him and partly out of the water. There was enough blood in the river that the water turned a red tint in places,” according to the complaint.
The video continues to pan around the scene, at times turning back toward the person taking the video, who questions what is happening. At the end of the video, the person can be heard yelling out to Victim 1, the complaint states.
Investigators interviewed Miu that evening at the St. Croix County jail.
Miu said he worked as a mechanical engineer and that he has two bachelor’s degrees, one in engineering and one in mathematics.
Miu told investigators “it was self defense” and that people had hit him and were on top of him, and “I don’t remember anything after that,” according to the complaint.
Miu said he was “so fearful” for his safety and that he was not sure “what the people on the river were going to do to him. Nic told that he’d never been in a situation like this before where a group of people produced weapons and called him a ‘child molester.” Nic told that as the group was calling him a ‘child molester,’ he remembered telling the group that if he was a child molester, and they were children, they shouldn’t be drinking alcohol,” the complaint states.
When asked how he had come to be in contact with the group of people, Miu said one of the people in his group had lost his phone, but that the phone had been inside a “floater,” which is a bag provided to tubers to prevent valuables from sinking.
Miu had his snorkel gear, and while looking for the phone, approached the group of people, who appeared to have found something. When Miu asked if they had found a cell phone, they got off their tubes and “came at me” and were calling him names and insulting him for being in the water with snorkel gear. Miu said he told them that all he wanted to know was if they had found a phone and that he believed they had found something, according to the complaint.
The group of individuals grabbed his snorkel and goggles and threw them in the river, and another group of individuals approached and were also yelling at him about being a “child molester.”
Miu told the investigator he did not know what had happened, other than “they attacked me,” and “I was in self-defense mode,” the complaint states.
When Miu returned to his group, they asked what had happened, “but he wouldn’t tell them.” Miu said he was in shock, and that someone from his group motioned to the river where a large group of people had gathered and “made a comment about that group of people appeared to be arguing,” according to the complaint.
Miu told the investigator he had “drank a lot of beer today,” although the investigator could not smell any odor of intoxicants coming from his person.
“Nic said he didn’t drink hard alcohol since his quadruple bypass about a year and a half ago. Nic said part of the reason he was so afraid of the group that attacked him was because he wasn’t in the best of health. Nic showed me a scar on his left wrist from where a piece of vein was removed for the heart valve replacement,” according to the complaint.
When the investigator showed Miu an image that had been disseminated, Miu confirmed that it was of him.
“I asked Nic what was happening at the time the image was taken, and he said ‘They were fighting me,” and that both boys had pointed the knives at him. Nic said he didn’t notice anyone taking his photo and described himself as ‘very, very scared,’” according to the complaint.
Miu said after the women in his group called 911, “they waited there for a long time.” and that he wanted to wait there in the event that law enforcement officers needed to talk to him about what had happened with the two groups.
“Nic said that his group eventually decided to leave and head back down the river. Nic stated again that he was quiet on the way down the river and didn’t know what to say. Nic said he’d just gotten his ‘ass kicked’ by a bunch of kids on the river so what was he supposed to say,” according to the complaint.
“Nic said he didn’t know what happened and asked if I could tell him. 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 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,” according to the complaint.