A Minnesota man was arrested Monday for allegedly killing a teenager and injuring four others while river tubing in Wisconsin.
Nicolae Miu, 52, claims he lashed out in self-defense during an encounter that was sparked by a lost phone in the water on Saturday at popular water tubing destination Apple River, according to reports.
His stabbing attack killed 17-year-old honor roll student Isaac Schuman.
Miu was charged with one count of first-degree homicide and four counts of attempted first-degree homicide.
Following his arrest, Miu told an investigator “they attacked me” and “I was in self-defense mode,” MPR News reported, citing a criminal complaint.
Miu, who was water tubing with his wife and others, was searching for a lost phone in a watertight container using a snorkel when he ran into others, MPR News reported. At some point, he was accused of “looking for little girls” and being a “child molester” as members of the group surrounded him after he grabbed the water tubes of juveniles, KARE 11 reported, citing the complaint.
Video from the incident then shows the group move toward Miu, who fell into the water, the complaint states. Before a tuber could apparently shove him again, the suspect stabbed him with a knife and then attacked others, according to court documents obtained by KARE 11.
One witness reportedly said Miu swam up to the group and looked at them “really weird and sketchily” and at least two people told authorities the altercation turned physical because Miu punched a young woman in the face.
Prosecutors believe Miu could have walked away from the situation before it escalated, KARE 11 reported.
On top of his self-defense argument, Miu also claimed the knife used in the attack did not belong to him and told authorities his life is now “down the tubes,” CBS Minnesota reported.
The local news station also reported his lawyer called the incident a “chance encounter.”
All of the victims that survived their stab wounds were in their early 20s, the local sheriff’s department said Sunday. The suspect was located 90 minutes after the attack thanks to witnesses taking photos of the suspect and sharing them with authorities.
Meanwhile, the fatal victim’s family remembered rising high school senior Isaac Schuman as someone who had an “incredibly bright future ahead of him.”
“We are all heartbroken and devastated beyond words that his future has been tragically and senselessly cut short,” the family told KARE 11 in a statement.
Miu was held on a $1 million bond following a court appearance Monday and could face life in prison if convicted of the homicide charge, MPR News reported.