Two people have been jailed after a Twin Cities man was fatally stabbed outside a Hudson, Wis., bar over the weekend, and police say it's the latest in newfound trouble caused by late-night patrons coming into the border town to dodge Minnesota's mandated coronavirus closures.
Cain W. Solheim, 26, of New Brighton, who died, was among the three people attacked shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday, according to his stepfather and an aunt. Two people, both from the Twin Cities, were arrested Monday in Anoka County.
Solheim was "brutally murdered … in front of the Smilin' Moose bar along with two other friends who were stabbed as well all coming to the aid of a much smaller friend" whose life "most likely was spared due to my son's ultimate sacrifice!" stepfather Kevin Hanson wrote in a Facebook posting Sunday night.
The stabbings come during a recently reimposed ban in Minnesota on indoor restaurant and bar service as part of the state's effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. There is no such restriction in place in Wisconsin.
"Since the Minnesota closure, we have seen a huge influx of people from all over Minnesota coming to Hudson," Police Chief Geoffrey Willems said Monday. "Some [come] to shop and dine, others to occupy the bars late at night."
The chief added that along with increased patronage in his city, he has also seen "more disturbance calls, more weapons calls, more violence, more ordinance violations, etc. More of everything. There is a criminal entity that is coming to Hudson now that normally doesn't come to Hudson."
Willems said he doesn't want to discourage visitors from coming to Hudson, a border town of about 14,000, and feeding the economy.
"We welcome everyone with open arms," he said, "but there is a group of people that are of the criminal nature that are using this opportunity to come to Hudson and exploit the opportunity."
Hudson Mayor Rich O'Connor said he intended to propose before the city's Common Council that a 10 p.m. curfew be imposed on bars and restaurants in hopes of reducing the window for potential trouble. The council put off a curfew decision until Tuesday at 5 p.m.
The president of the Hudson Area Chamber of Commerce & Tourism Bureau, Mary Claire Potter, said she has been working with her board and "communicating with some of the restaurants for their take on it. … With the increased number of guests, we are just asking everyone to be patient and keep everyone safe."
Council Member Joyce Hall said she's open to listening to the specifics behind the mayor's desire for a curfew.
Along with what's best in terms of the public's health and safety, Hall added, "the city's image, too, needs to be in our minds as we make decisions. … We want our bars and restaurants to be successful, but we don't want the trouble that comes with too much celebrating."
Minnesota officials again are urging residents to stay put and not risk getting themselves or others ill.
Health Department spokesman Scott Smith said that "Minnesota is facing a major crisis. … The data clearly tell us that going to restaurants and bars, where social distancing and mask wearing are not practiced, is extremely risky and likely to spread disease.
"The governor announced a series of measures to slow down the spread of this virus, prevent our health care system from being overwhelmed and reduce the number of people who get sick. It's critically important that people take these measures to heart and do their part to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 right now and in the weeks ahead. Anything else prolongs the pandemic pain for all of us and puts those around you at greater risk."
Teddy Tschann, spokesman for Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz, pointed out Monday that "the current [Minnesota Department of Health] guidance advises against traveling to other states. So I think it's safe to say the [Walz] administration advises against it, unless someone was going to Wisconsin for work."
Potter, of the Hudson chamber, was reluctant to challenge Walz's desire for Minnesotans to remain at home for the time being. "I don't know what to say about that," she said. "COVID certainly is challenging for everyone."
Police said in a statement that witnesses told them that multiple suspects got in a minivan with Minnesota license plates and drove off. Emergency dispatch audio disclosed there were four people who left in the vehicle and that they were armed with a knife and a gun.
The van was located Sunday afternoon in Blaine, and two people were arrested Monday and jailed in Anoka County while awaiting return to Wisconsin for prosecution, Willems said. One is a 24-year-old man from Fridley and the other a 22-year-old woman from Circle Pines. The Star Tribune generally does not identify suspects before they are charged.
"We believe this incident to have been a targeted attack," the statement read, "and do not believe there is a risk to the general public."
In a plea written to help investigators, Hanson wrote, "Please contact local authorities! Our family has suffered many losses this past year, but nothing hurts worse then losing your son!"
Authorities have yet to disclose the conditions on the other two victims, who were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, the survivors' identities or the circumstances that led up to the violence.
An aunt, Jamie Solheim, said in a GoFundMe fundraising campaign on behalf of the family that "this is a really hard time for our family, especially my sister, Cain's mother. We have days to arrange his funeral and need help with the cost."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482