Accused hostage-taker indicted on 41 counts

Posted Dec. 30, 2008, at 9:03 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — The Waldo County grand jury completed a special session Tuesday morning and handed up 41 felony indictments against the Searsport man accused of entering the Stockton Springs Elementary School on Halloween morning and taking the fifth-grade class hostage while armed with a handgun.

Randall B. Hofland, 55, was indicted on 22 counts of kidnapping, 12 counts of criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon, six counts of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and one count of burglary. None of the children was injured during the hostage taking.

Hofland was arrested at the school the morning of the incident and is currently at the York County Jail where he is being held on $1 million bail. He was indicted in November on a charge of criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon that stemmed from an incident in Searsport a week before the hostage situation when he allegedly pulled a handgun on a police officer during a routine safety check.

Hofland eluded Searsport police that night and had been on the run for seven days until he suddenly appeared at the elementary school on the morning of Oct. 31, pulled a gun and forced his way into the fifth-grade classroom. Hofland pushed the teacher from the room and ordered 11 students into a corner. He later released two students when they began to cry. The fifth-graders were younger than 14 years old, which influenced the charges against him.

The building was locked down and police quickly cordoned off the classroom area. Hofland then handed his 10 mm Glock handgun and five loaded clips to one of the male students and walked into the corridor where he was immediately tackled and placed under arrest. The ordeal inside the school lasted about a half hour.

The kidnapping indictment charges Hofland with two counts for each of the 11 students who were in the classroom that day. The indictment states that he knowingly restrained each student with the intent to use them as a “shield or hostage” and expose them to “risk of serious bodily injury” with the use of a dangerous weapon.

Waldo County Deputy District Attorney Eric Walker said indicting Hofland on two kidnapping counts for each of the victims allows the prosecutor and judge trying the case to present two theories of the crime to a jury.

The criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon charges name each of the students involved for intentionally or knowingly taking or restraining them with the use of a dangerous weapon.

The criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon charges name the Searsport police officer who allegedly had a gun pointed at her the night of Oct. 23, as well as the bus driver and two teachers as victims. The indictment charges that Hofland intentionally or knowingly “put them in fear of imminent bodily injury with the use of a dangerous weapon.”

The burglary indictment charges Hofland with entering the school “knowing he was not licensed or privileged to do so” and for “surreptitiously” remaining in the structure with the intent to commit kidnapping, criminal threatening with a dangerous weapon and criminal restraint with a dangerous weapon.

According to Maine State Police documents filed with the case, Hofland entered the school’s gymnasium at approximately 8:35 a.m. He immediately attempted to pull two male students into the woman’s locker room. When a bus driver confronted Hofland, he pulled the semiautomatic pistol from its holster and pointed it at the man’s head from a distance of about 18 inches. When a gym teacher pulled the boys into a side room and locked the door, Hofland left the room.

Hofland confronted the fifth-grade teacher just as the lockdown sounded and she was attempting to secure her classroom. The teacher was forced by gunpoint to leave the room. He then went to the corner where the children had been directed and sat with them for a period. He left the classroom at 9:08 a.m. and was immediately arrested.

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