Students Take the Stand in Hofland Trial 

Thursday marks day 8 in the trial of a man accused of holding a group of 5th graders hostage at Stockton Springs Elementary School on Halloween 2008.Students began testifying Thursday morning. The first, a young boy, said he was in 4th grade at Stockton Springs Elementary School in October 2008. He said he was in the cafeteria getting breakfast when he says a man came into the cafeteria and was trying to pull kids into the bathroom. He says the man grabbed his wrist and began pulling him towards the girls bathroom. He said the man was quietly saying, “come here”. The boy went on to say the man had also grabbed a 4th grade girl student and was trying to pull her into the bathroom. The boy said a bus driver told the man to let the kids go, and he did. He says he heard the man say to the bus driver: “This is not how I wanted it to end.” The boy said he ran to his classroom and told the teacher there was a man with a gun, but said he never actually saw the gun.Randall Hofland, who is representing himself, asked the boy only one question. He asked the boy if he took an oath to tell the truth. The boy said he did and then Hofland said “Thank you.”Three students in the 5th grade at the time of the incident also took the stand.They said their teacher struggled with the door to keep Hofland out of the room. One girl said Hofland got in and pointed a black gun at the teachers chest.The students say Hofland sat on the floor with them and talked to them about his life and told the students they were his protection. They say many students were crying and were visibly scared.The students did say Hofland never pointed the gun at them but one student says he saw Hofland’s finger on the trigger.One student testified that when a girl asked to leave the classroom because she was very upset, Hofland kissed her on the head and hugged her, telling her she could go. Earlier in the day, the former secretary at Stockton Springs Elementary School testified. She says she was working at the school on Halloween 2008. She said a teacher came into her office and said there was a man in her classroom with a gun and he had just pushed her out.The woman said she called a Code Blue which is a lock down over the school intercom. She said she called 911 and the Superintendents Office to let them know what was going on. She then said she walked throughout the school to make sure all the children were safely in classrooms. She said when she got to the 5th grade room the door was unlocked and she walked part way into the room. She said she saw Randall Hofland sitting on the floor with the students sitting around him. She went on to say she asked Hofland to release the students to her, but he said no. She says Hofland said the students were his protection. The secretary says she asked Hofland if he had a weapon and he replied by holding up what she said looked like a hand gun.She said she left the classroom at that point because she did not want to make the situation any worse for the children.We’re told the trial could last at least two more weeks.