Wisconsin officials say Minnesotans have been pouring across the border to take advantage of their state’s open bars and restaurants, leading to an uptick in crime and violence.
The Hudson Common Council on Tuesday declared a state of emergency after a fight between two groups of Minnesotans left one of them dead in the city’s downtown last weekend.
Under a new curfew imposed by the council, any establishment that sells liquor in Hudson must close at 10 p.m. on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, in addition to Dec. 23, 24, 25 and 31.
“The citizens of our city are afraid, they fear for their safety when they even contemplate going into our downtown area,” Hudson Mayor Rich O’Connor said. “We need to address this situation.”
The St. Croix County Sheriff’s Office on Wednesday posted on Facebook that residents could expect to see an increased law enforcement presence in the county’s border communities, like Hudson.
Wisconsin officials attribute the increase in visitors from the North Star State to Minnesota’s COVID-19 restrictions, which have closed the state’s bars and restaurants. No such restrictions are in place in Wisconsin.
“They’re coming here in droves, in inordinate numbers, because we are open and Minnesota is not, period,” Mayor Rich O’Connor said.
Among the Minnesotans who crossed the border last weekend was 26-year-old Cain William Solheim of New Brighton, who was stabbed to death during a fight in downtown Hudson early Sunday morning. Two of Solheim’s friends, who have not been identified, were also injured in the incident.
Another Minnesotan, 24-year-old William Cordell Davidson Jr. of Blaine, is facing charges in Solheim’s death.
Davidson was charged Wednesday with first-degree intentional homicide, attempted first-degree intentional homicide, misdemeanor battery and disorderly conduct, according to a criminal complaint filed in St. Croix County Circuit Court. He was arrested Sunday in Blaine.
Investigators left open the possibility of further charges in the case.
According to the criminal complaint, Hudson police responded shortly after midnight Sunday to a reported stabbing. Officers found three victims who were all taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, two for stab wounds and one suffering from blows to the head.
One victim, later identified as Solheim, was pronounced dead at 1:47 a.m. at Regions, the complaint said. Solheim’s cause of death was later determined to be blood loss due to multiple stab wounds.
A witness told investigators that he had been at Dick’s Bar in Hudson on Saturday night with Solheim and some other friends. As the witness and another member of Solheim’s group were leaving the bar, the witness bumped into a man who was there with two other men, including Davidson.
The witness told police he apologized to the man he bumped into, but the trio followed the witness and his friend out of the Dick’s and began fighting with them, the complaint said.
When Solheim and the witness’s other friends caught up with them outside the bar, the fight escalated. The witness told investigators he was fighting with Davidson when he saw one of Davidson’s friends stab Solheim and another member of their group.
“This past weekend was the unfortunate culmination of issues that have been building,” Hudson City Administrator Aaron Reeves said of the incident.
The city’s 10 p.m. closing order will run through the end of the year, but it may be extended at the council’s Jan. 4 meeting, officials said.
Council member Sarah Atkins Hoggatt speculated that other border towns may now bear the brunt of Minnesotans spilling into Wisconsin.
“Closing here at 10 means some other communities might have to brace for impact,” she said.
This report includes information from the Forum News Service.