Hundreds of people dressed in varying shades of orange streamed from every direction — across Oak Glen Golf Course and from adjacent streets — to gather on the 14th green for a Wednesday evening candlelight vigil to remember a beloved Stillwater teenager slain on the Apple River last weekend.
Isaac Schuman, 17, was part of a group tubing on the western Wisconsin river with friends and their family members to celebrate a birthday when Nicolae Miu, 52, of Prior Lake, allegedly began stabbing people during a confrontation.
Also stabbed and seriously injured were A.J. Martin, 22, of Elk River, Minn., Rhyley Mattison, 24, of Burnsville, and two men from Luck, Wis., ages 20 and 22.
More than 500 people gathered at dusk Wednesday and dozens spoke about the teenager, including the mayor of Stillwater and the principal of Stillwater Area High School, where Schuman would have been a senior this fall.
All the speakers shared the same sentiments — that Schuman was a kind, compassionate teenager who spread joy and love. In addition to the orange that most of the crowd sported, several close friends and family members wore white shirts that said “Isaac Strong.”
His brother, Jake Schuman, spoke, thanking Isaac for “the best 17 years of our life.”
He told those gathered that he hoped they would keep Isaac’s presence with them when they left and implement the way his brother loved others into their own lives.
He said Isaac was his best friend.
“Answer a phone call, answer a text message, go see somebody,” he said. “Because life is too short.”
He ended by saying, “I love you, Isaac.”
Isaac’s mother, Alina Hernandez, said that everyone who knew her son “knew the force of his presence.”
“He is all that was good, kind, giving and forgiving,” she said. “He had a style all his own, an incredible work ethic and a smile he shared equally. I know Isaac can’t come back to me physically, but with his spirit I will always feel him with me. I pray every day he will guide me to forgive, to have his kindness, have his tender heart and the generous spirit of love and patience.”
She said her son was “our hero” and that she was so proud of what he accomplished in 17 years of life.
“If I can leave everyone with this message from Isaac, it’s always look up,” she said. “You’ll see him up there. He’s rainbows and he’s light shows. I love you Isaac, forever.”
His father, Scott Schuman, said his son was “respectful, courteous, kind, compassionate and an amazing” person and that he was still in shock. “He was so loved by so many.”
In addition to family members, several of the teenager’s friends spoke, including a teen named Ben who said Isaac was the most positive person he knew “bar none.”
Another friend named Alex said “I had so many problems, and Isaac was always one phone call away from fixing it.”
Alyssa Lord, Isaac’s girlfriend, had her godmother read a prepared statement in which she said Isaac walked her to all of her classes. She said he loved many things, including math, golf, music, cars, the number 8 and the color orange.
Mayor Ted Kozlowski said that the community is still seeking to make sense of what happened Saturday afternoon in Somerset, Wis.
“There are no words for the grief we are all feeling,” he said.
Stillwater High Principal Rob Bach offered support for the students, saying he was so sorry. “Just know that we’re thinking about you, aching for you and behind you ready to help.”
Miu was charged Monday with first-degree intentional homicide and four counts of attempted homicide. Witnesses told authorities that Miu had been bothering young women and girls tubing on the river while wearing a snorkel mask. But Miu told investigators he acted to defend himself after he was attacked while searching for a lost cellphone.
Mary Divine contributed to this report.