Accused school hostage-taker pleads not guilty

By Walter Griffin,
Posted Jan. 07, 2009, at 6:39 p.m.

BELFAST, Maine — The man accused of holding a Stockton Elementary School fifth-grade classroom hostage three months ago pleaded not guilty to 41 charges stemming from that incident when he appeared in Waldo County Superior Court on Wednesday.

Randall B. Hofland, 55, of Searsport 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 by the Waldo County grand jury last week. He was arraigned on those 41 charges before Justice Jeffrey Hjelm Wednesday and entered not guilty pleas on each.

Hofland was arrested at the school after the Oct. 31 armed hostage-taking. None of the students was physically injured during the incident.

Justice Hjelm continued the $1 million bail that was imposed when Hofland first was arrested and also ordered that Hofland be held in the Penobscot County Jail so that he can be closer to his attorney, Jeffrey Toothaker, of Ellsworth. Hofland was being held at the York County Jail.

Superior Court Clerk Terry Curtis said Hofland made no mention of the school incident during his appearance before Justice Hjelm but he did remark on the removal of certain items from his property in Searsport after his arrest.

Many of the goods were believed to belong to retired sea captain George Perkins, but Hofland claimed they were his. Hofland worked as a caregiver for Perkins at his Stockton Springs home during the first half of the decade.

During a phone conversation from the York County Jail last month, Hofland insisted that the items belonged to him and that the Searsport Police Department was wrong to give them to Perkins.

When Perkins returned home from the hospital in 2005 he noticed many of his personal belongings were missing and accused Hofland of taking them. The items ranged from tools, to power equipment and welding supplies. There were also two long guns, which Hofland said were given to him by his father.

“All this stuff is mine. It’s all my property,” Hofland said from jail last month. “None of those guns were stolen by me, now they’ve been stolen by George.”

Hofland declined to discuss the hostage-taking other than to say that he told the schoolchildren that “it was important for the news media to tell the truth.”

At the time he entered the school on Halloween morning, Hofland had been the subject of a police manhunt for a week. On Oct. 23 he allegedly brandished a handgun at a Searsport police officer during a routine safety check a few hundred yards from his Route 1 residence. Hofland drove to his residence and fled into the woods.

Later that night as police combed the area looking for him, Hofland called the Waldo County Communications Center and told a dispatcher that there would be a “war” unless the police backed off.

Hofland entered the school at 8:35 a.m. Oct. 31 and attempted to pull two boys into a gymnasium locker room. When a bus driver challenged him, Hofland allegedly drew his 10 mm Glock handgun and pointed it at the man. Hofland then left the gym and forced his way into the fifth-grade classroom.

He allegedly ordered the teacher from the room at gunpoint and then went to the corner where the 11 students were huddled. He let two crying students leave the room and a short time later handed the gun to a male student and stepped into the hallway where he was immediately tackled by a state trooper and taken to the county jail.

http://bangordailynews.com/2009/01/07/news/bangor/accused-school-hostagetaker-pleads-not-guilty/ printed on December 18, 2014