SEARSPORT, Maine — Despite shutting down U.S. Route 1 from midnight into midmorning Friday, a manhunt for a local man who brandished a gun at a police officer was unsuccessful as the suspect had evaded the dragnet by late Friday afternoon.
Police began searching for Randall Hofland, 55, of Stockton Springs after he dodged a police detail near his Route 1 home at approximately 11 p.m. Thursday.
Searsport police were conducting a seat belt check near Set Equipment Rental when Hofland approached from the west. The area was marked by safety cones and police cars with flashing lights. Hofland stopped his late-model Subaru Forester briefly, displayed a handgun to a female officer and then drove off.
“The officer signaled him to lower his high beams and when she approached and got to the door he brandished the weapon then drove 200 to 250 feet down the eastbound lane and turned in to a field and down a dirt road to his home,” Police Chief Richard LaHaye said Friday.
LaHaye said the six officers conducting the detail pursued the SUV, flooded it with spotlights where it had stopped and ordered the operator to exit the vehicle. By that time, however, Hofland apparently had slipped away into the nearby woods.
“No shots were fired. No one was injured,” LaHaye said.
At that point the Maine State Police Tactical Team was called in along with Maine State Police Troop D from Thomaston, deputies from the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department and the Maine Warden Service. Firefighters and ambulance personnel from Searsport, Stockton Springs and Prospect were called to the area to set up roadblocks.
About two miles of Route 1 were initially shut down between Searsport and Stockton Springs but the blockade was extended from the Penobscot Narrows Bridge in Prospect to Mount Ephraim Road in Searsport. Traffic was routed through Prospect along Route 174 and Hawes Bridge Road, to the Nickels and Mount Ephraim roads in Searsport. Route 1 was reopened at 9:25 a.m.
LaHaye said the decision was “made early” to order schools from SAD 56 closed because “we did not want to have K through 12 kids standing out in the road waiting for their bus without knowing where this person was. Route 1 was shut down for the same reason.”
LaHaye said the tactical team surrounded Hofland’s home but it was unoccupied. As a state police airplane conducted an air search overhead, LaHaye said troopers, deputies and officers would continue to patrol the general area in search of Hofland. By late afternoon there had been no reported sightings of Hofland.
He said Hofland was considered armed and dangerous and cautioned the public against having any contact with him.
Hofland was described as being 5 feet, 11 inches tall, about 200 pounds with a moustache and wearing dark clothing, and possibly armed with a handgun.
LaHaye asked the public to call the Searsport Police Department at 548-2304, the Waldo County Sheriff’s Department at 338-2040 or the Maine State Police at 800-452-4664 if they observe anything suspicious.