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Olivia mayor speaks out after stabbing death of local teenager

Following the death of Isaac Hoff, 13, caused by an alleged domestic violence act last Thursday, Olivia Mayor Jon Hawkinson is pledging action. He plans to reach out to multiple leaders in the community to see what can be done to respond to the negative issues facing the Corn Capital of the World.

Friends of 13-year-old Isaac Hoff, who was stabbed and killed early Thursday, gather to mourn his passing outside of where Hoff was murdered in downtown Olivia Friday afternoon.
Friends of 13-year-old Isaac Hoff write messages at his vigil in downtown Olivia Friday afternoon. Following Hoff's death in an alleged domestic violence incident, Olivia Mayor Jon Hawkinson is hoping to do something about the negative issues he believes are hurting the town including illegal drugs and the lack of civility amongst people.
Macy Moore / West Central Tribune

OLIVIA — They are remarks Olivia Mayor Jon Hawkinson probably hoped he would never have to write. But with the tragic death of Isaac Hoff, 13, stunning the community, Hawkinson decided he needed to respond.

"I am brokenhearted and stunned to find our community struggling with yet another tragedy in our midst," Hawkinson said in a release sent out late Friday evening. "While saying that my thoughts and prayers are with everyone touched by this senseless tragedy might sound trite and cliche, it nevertheless is a true statement of where my mind and heart is at this moment."

Olivia Mayor Jon Hawkinson
Jon Hawkinson
Contributed / City of Olivia

It has been a rocky year for the city known as the Corn Capital of the World. In July, Olivia Police Officer Aaron Clouse shot and killed Ricardo Torres Jr. on the same block where the apartment in which Hoff was stabbed is located. Clouse was found justified for his actions by the Blue Earth County Attorney's Office and no charges were filed. Then in December, BOLD High School sophomore Carter Bremseth died , in what his family later released was a suicide.

"I feel frustrated at the parade of horrific situations our community has endured," Hawkinson said.

Hawkinson is also angry at the lives lost and changed forever, angry that Olivia's reputation has been tarnished and angry at how powerless people are feeling.

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"The anger I feel has me wanting to 'do something' tangible beyond offering condolences and prayers," Hawkinson said.

The most recent event, plus those in the months past, have caused Hawkinson to reflect on what common threads there might be between them. In the release, Hawkinson said he believed illegal drugs, the challenges around providing support and encouragement to youth and the loss of civility between individuals and groups throughout society are growing problems.

Members of the Olivia community gathered Friday evening near where Isaac Hoff, 13, was killed early Thursday morning, to remember, grieve and try to understand how such a thing could happen. Hoff was killed after being stabbed, allegedly by his mother's boyfriend. Houston Morris has been charged with three felony counts of second-degree murder.

"I believe we need to be honest with ourselves and admit that we face these daunting problems which in some cases are destroying lives, destroying our community's reputation, threatening the stability of our area and dimming the prospect of a better future for ourselves and our children," Hawkinson said.

Going forward Hawkinson said he plans to reach out to various leaders and representatives from law enforcement, schools, human services, faith organizations and the community at large on how to confront the issues he feels are threatening the community and its families.

"Today we grieve the senseless loss of another young member or our community," Hawkinson said. "I am done feeling angry, frustrated and helpless."

A 13-year-old boy died of a stab wound after being transported to the Olivia Hospital & Clinic on Thursday morning. His mother is recovering from injuries. A man known to them is in custody.

Hawkinson is hopeful that others in Olivia and the surrounding area will assist in trying to find solutions.

"I'm adding in with my prayers for all those impacted by recent tragedies an earnest hope and desire that together we can put faith into action and begin to address some of the problems and challenges our community currently faces," Hawkinson said. "Please join me in this effort."

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email slindrud@wctrib.com or direct 320-214-4373.


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