Bail set at $1 million for accused school hostage taker

Posted Nov. 03, 2008, at 3:18 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — Bail for the man who held 11 Stockton Springs Elementary Students hostage last week was set at $1 million when he appeared in Belfast District Court on Monday.

Randall Hofland, 55, of Searsport, faces nine counts of kidnapping, five counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and one count of burglary in connection with the school hostage incident. He faces an additional count of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon stemming from an incident in Searsport on Oct. 23 when he allegedly pointed a handgun at a Searsport Police officer and ran off.

Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker requested $1 million surety bail or $250,000 cash, for the charges associated with the armed hostage taking last Friday. He asked for $100,000 surety bail or $50,000 cash for the Searsport incident that took place a week earlier.

“Mr. Hofland does represent a significant threat to others in the community but also a significant threat for flight considering the incidents of the past week and a half,” Walker told Judge Patricia Worth. Hofland’s attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, of Ellsworth, did not object to the bail or conditions.

Hofland was not required to enter a plea during his initial appearance on the charges. During that appearance, he complained about his rights and wanted assurances that he would be held at the Waldo County Jail during the period leading up to his trial. Hofland told Judge Worth he needed to be confined in Belfast because he wanted access to his lawyer and visits from family members coming from California.

“It shouldn’t be an issue,” Hofland told the judge. “If I’m moved it would be a hardship.”

Judge Worth cautioned Hofland that the proceeding was being recorded and anything he said could surface at a later hearing. Although she agreed that where he was housed would be a concern when his case goes to trial, Worth told Hofland she had no intention of ordering the county sheriff to keep him in a special place for the time being.

Hofland had been the subject of a week-long manhunt for the incident in Searsport when he suddenly appeared at the Stockton Spring Elementary School last Friday morning. A parent noticed him in the cafeteria as he attempted to pull two students into a locker room. She alerted a school employee who in turn told a bus driver. When the driver confronted Hofland, he brandished a handgun.

Hofland then left the room, walked down the hall to the fifth grade and forced his way into the classroom. Eleven pupils were in the room and Hofland let two go when they began crying. The school was locked down and police officers surrounded the building. Hofland eventually let the children out of the classroom before being taken into custody and transported to jail.

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