As the trial of Randall Hofland entered its second week of testimony Tuesday, Jan. 18, the prosecution began calling witnesses who were at Stockton Springs Elementary School Oct. 31, 2008, the day Hofland allegedly brought a gun into the school and took 11 fifth graders hostage.

Testimony was delayed until just after 11 a.m. due to a juror’s late arrival, but as soon as the juror arrived, Justice Jeffrey Hjelm immediately resumed the trial.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau called SSES Education Technician Marcia Williams to the stand. Prompted by questions posed by Rushlau, Williams described what she saw the morning of Oct. 31, 2008.

Williams testified she was in the room that serves as both the cafeteria and the gymnasium assisting the children getting breakfast when she noticed an unknown man wearing dark clothing.

“I observed a man entering to my right,” said Williams. “He was wearing a dark blue jacket and a cap… I thought maybe he was a work man.”

Williams said she didn’t think much more about the man until a student approached her and told her, “His pants are ripped.”

Rushlau asked Williams if at that point she approached the man, and Williams said she did.

“I asked him, ‘May I help you?’ and he said, ‘I don’t know’. I asked him who are you looking for?’ and he said, ‘Who am I looking for?’” recalled Williams, adding that the man appeared scruffy and dirty.

Rushlau asked Williams how that encounter made her feel, to which Williams replied, “Very uneasy.”

From there, Williams said, she called 911.

“Why did you consider this an emergency?” asked Rushlau.

“I was just very uneasy after my encounter with him,” Williams said.

When Williams left the cafeteria area to call 911, she asked bus driver Glen Larrabee to sit with the children in her absence. Because there was a child in the main office sitting with secretary Tina Boyce, Williams said she opted to use the phone in the neighboring nurse’s office because she did not want to alarm the child.

It was not long after she got on the phone with dispatchers at Waldo County Regional Communications Center, Williams said, that her suspicions about the man in the school were confirmed.

“I told them there was somebody in the building that I didn’t know,” she recalled. “… At that time I heard kids screaming, ‘Gun, gun, he’s got a gun.’”

Williams, who was still on the phone with dispatch, then stated, “Oh my God I think he may be the guy you’re looking for from last Friday.”

Rushlau asked Williams if she was referring to the man who police were looking for since an Oct. 23, 2008, traffic detail, when Hofland allegedly pulled a gun on former Searsport Police Officer Jessica Danielson. Williams said she was.

“Have you listened to the recording of your 911 call?” asked Rushlau.

Williams said she had. Rushlau asked Williams to describe how her voice sounded in that recording.

“It was shaky and hurried because I wanted them here quickly,” she said.

Williams said once she was off the phone with dispatch, she entered a nearby conference room, where she said she saw two fifth-grade students and the fifth-grade teacher Carolyn Russell.

“What was the demeanor of Carolyn Russell?” asked Rushlau.

“She was shaking and crying, and she said, ‘He’s got the kids,’” said Williams.

Rushlau asked Williams if she ever saw a weapon in the man’s possession, and she said she did not.

“Is the person you encountered that day here in the courtroom today?” asked Rushlau.

“Yes,” replied Williams, pointing to Hofland.

Williams said Hofland’s appearance has changed since she saw him at the school more than two years ago, noting the man in a black suit, white button up shirt, red tie and dark-rimmed glasses was a cleaner version of the man she met that day. Williams described Hofland’s appearance on the day he came into the school as “scruffy, muddy and dirty.” Williams also said that Hofland’s hair was longer and curlier.

Rushlau asked Williams if she was positive the man in the courtroom was Hofland, despite his change in appearance.

“I don’t have any doubt,” said Williams.

Hofland began his cross-examination of Williams with a series of questions about the kind of clothing he was wearing on the day he went into the school, but Williams was unable to offer many specific details about Hofland’s attire.

“I guess I was looking more at your face than your clothing,” said Williams.

“You became uneasy and decided to call 911?” asked Hofland.

“Yes,” said Williams.

“And that was for no other reason besides, I looked out of place,” said Hofland.

“Yes,” Williams said.

Hofland then asked Williams if he ever threatened her during their encounter, and she said he had not.

“It made me uneasy, the way you were speaking to me,” said Williams.

When Rushlau got his opportunity to ask Williams additional questions, he asked her where the sounds of the children’s screams were coming from while she was on the phone with dispatchers.

“From the main lobby,” she said.

Sandra Sylvester, a cook at SSES, was the next witness to take the stand for the state.

“At some point you became aware that Marcia Williams and a student had had an interaction with an adult male?” asked Rushlau.

Sylvester said she had, and stated that soon after that encounter, she saw the man walking through the cafeteria/gym.

“He came right into the gym towards the serving window,” she said.

When Rushlau asked what Williams did, Sylvester said she saw Williams “walk out rather hurriedly.” At that time, Sylvester said she stepped out into the hallway and saw the man “trying to pull some children into the bathroom.”

“He put his arms out and started pushing them towards the door,” said Sylvester. “I asked him what he was doing and he said he was looking for somebody.”

Sylvester said the man, who was later identified as Hofland, eventually succeeded in securing his grip on a fifth-grade boy.

“The man had a hold of a child and Mr. [Glen] Larrabee came in and hollered for him to stop,” said Sylvester. “… Then he turned around and I saw the gun come out.”

Sylvester said Hofland had such a tight hold on the boy’s shirt that Hofland was “tearing the shirt off him.”

“At what part of Mr. Larrabee’s body was he pointing the gun at?” asked Rushlau.

“The chest area,” replied Sylvester.

Sylvester said the children who remained in the cafeteria ran out, and once she knew they had all escaped the area, she went back to the kitchen and locked the door to await further instructions on what to do next.

Sylvester said she thought SSES physical education teacher Daniel Campbell got the young boy away from Hofland while Larrabee continued to talk to him.

“When the man brought the gun up and pointed it at Mr. Larrabee, do you recall what Mr. Larrabee’s response was?” asked Rushlau.

Sylvester said she saw Larrabee slowly backing away from Hofland.

“I heard him at one point say [to Hofland], ‘You don’t need to do this,’” she said.

During cross-examination, Hofland asked Sylvester about the occasion when he tried to pull schoolchildren into a bathroom at the school.

“You said I grabbed [the boy] and almost tore his shirt off,” said Hofland.

“He had an arm out,” replied Sylvester.

Hofland offered Sylvester a blank piece of paper and asked her to draw out where different people were situated in the cafeteria at that time, and later asked Sylvester to do the same on a chalkboard next to the jury box. Sylvester obliged on both occasions, and Hofland continued to ask questions that largely led to Sylvester reiterating answers she had already offered through Rushlau’s line of questioning.

“What kind of gun did I have?” asked Hofland.

“A handgun,” said Sylvester.

Hofland asked a series of questions about what type of gun Sylvester remembered him having on the day he came into the school, and then asked Sylvester if he ever pointed a gun at her.

“No,” she said. “You pointed it at Mr. Larrabee.”

After reviewing transcripts of police interviews, Hofland asked Sylvester which man pulled the boy away from him, Larrabee or Campbell.

“It was a combination of both,” Sylvester said. “Mr. Larrabee talked to you and at the same time Mr. Campbell was getting [the boy].”

Rushlau then asked Sylvester what she felt like when she saw that the man inside the school had a gun.

“Petrified,” she said.

As the trial moved into the afternoon session, Larrabee, an RSU 20 bus driver and custodian, described what he recalled about the day he encountered Hofland.

Larrabee said he had just dropped the children off at the school and was checking his bus to make sure all the students got off when he noticed a man walking across the driveway of the school. Larrabee said he noticed the man when he came out from between two parked cars.

“He just walked through the front door,” said Larrabee.

Larrabee said he went inside the school to continue his morning routine, which included delivering in-house mail for the school staff. On his way to the restroom, Larrabee said he met Williams, who was visibly upset about an unknown man inside the school.

“You could tell something was going on that she was quite concerned about,” said Larrabee.

When Larrabee entered the cafeteria/gymnasium, he spotted the man he had seen outside minutes before, and the man was “grabbing the kids.”

At first, Larrabee, said, it appeared the children thought the man was joking with them because they were laughing and giggling.

Larrabee said he asked the man if he could help him, and as he continued to walk toward the man Larrabee told the man that he couldn’t touch the kids.

At that time the man had three schoolchildren around him, and he eventually secured his grip on the fifth-grade boy. Larrabee testified the man grabbed the child by the hair and put him into a tight headlock. All the while, Larrabee said, the boy was struggling in an attempt to free himself.

Larrabee said he asked the man not to hurt the kids again, but the man responded by pulling a gun out of a holster.

“When you saw the gun what did you do?” asked Rushlau.

“Well, a lot of things went through my mind,” said Larrabee, with his voice breaking. “I said, ‘I hope this isn’t the end of me.’”

Rushlau asked Larrabee if he said that audibly, and Larrabee said it was his first thought upon seeing the firearm. Then, Larrabee said he remembered from his training how to talk the man out of hurting somebody.

“Did the man say anything to you that you now remember?” asked Rushlau.

Larrabee said at one point, the man held the gun up, with the barrel pointed toward the ceiling, and stated, “I guess that’s the way things are going to be.”

Despite Larrabee’s attempts to calm down the man, the situation only grew more severe.

“He took the gun and put it right down on [the boy’s] head,” said Larrabee, who was visibly upset by the memory. “I kept telling him, ‘Don’t hurt the kid,’ and, ‘If you want to talk, take me in the bathroom and we can talk.’”

Larrabee said at one point, Hofland made some adjustment to the top of the gun that Larrabee thought could have been the safety. At that time, Larrabee said he saw a hand reach in and help pull the young boy away from the gunman. It was then that Larrabee said he felt his own life was in danger again.

“He took that gun, brought it up and pointed it right between my eyes,” said Larrabee.

Larrabee recalled telling the man that he didn’t need to do this, and that Hofland lowered the gun in response.

“I thought he was going to talk to me,” recalled Larrabee.

But then, Larrabee saw Hofland walking away, and initially Larrabee hoped that he was going to leave the building.

But instead, Hofland took a left down the corridor, where the fourth- and fifth-grade classrooms are located.

Larrabee said he saw Hofland attempt to enter the fourth-grade classroom, but he was not successful in getting the door open. Larrabee said Hofland moved up the hall to the fifth-grade classroom, which was also closed. Larrabee said Hofland planted his foot on the side of the doorway and pulled on the doorknob with both hands, all while he was still holding the gun.

“What did you do when you saw him enter the classroom?” asked Rushlau.

“I said, ‘I can’t let him hurt these kids,’” said Larrabee.

Larrabee said he went down the corridor after Hofland, and he had almost made it through the entryway of the fifth-grade classroom when Hofland pointed the gun at him again and instructed him to leave.

Larrabee said in the interest of keeping Hofland calm, he left the classroom. At that time, a parent approached him with good news.

“I heard a lady in the lobby say, ‘Glen, there’s a cop here,’” he recalled.

Larrabee said he went to the front door to unlock it and let Maine State Police Trooper Jonah O’Roak into the building.

“What happened once he was inside?” asked Rushlau.

Larrabee said O’Roak asked what type of gun Hofland had, and Larrabee said it was similar to the service weapon that the officer was carrying. From there, Larrabee said he led the officer to the classroom where Hofland was sitting with the children.

Initially, Larrabee said O’Roak intended to shoot Hofland, but Larrabee protested because of Hofland’s close proximity to the children.

Once the officer reached the classroom, Larrabee said he went to the main office, where several school staffers, including Boyce, had gathered.

“What did you decide to do?” asked Rushlau.

Larrabee said he saw his school bus parked outside, and immediately started going from classroom to classroom, telling students, teachers and support staff to get on his bus because he would take everyone to Searsport Elementary School.

Larrabee said all students were accounted for with the exception of the fourth and fifthgraders; the fifth graders were in their classroom with Hofland, but Larrabee said the fourth graders were not in their classroom as the should have been. Larrabee later learned the children were hiding under tables inside the classroom, and that all of the students escaped the incident unharmed.

Rushlau asked Larrabee if the man he met on that day at SSES was in the courtroom, and Larrabee said although Hofland’s physical appearance had changed significantly, he still recognized the man at the defense table as Hofland.

During cross-examination, Hofland asked Larrabee about the kind of clothing he was wearing on the day he went into the school, and asked Larrabee if he had a chance to review his prior statements to police. Larrabee said he had, and Hofland asked Larrabee to draw a diagram showing where people were situated in the cafeteria area. Larrabee did so, and then Hofland began his line of questioning about the chain of events as Larrabee remembered them.

“At some point in time did I transfer the gun to my right hand?” asked Hofland.

Larrabee said he did not recall when and if Hofland moved the gun from one hand to another, but assured Hofland that he was paying very close attention to his actions when it came to the child Hofland was holding.

“I was not taking my eyes off from you,” Larrabee told Hofland.

At one point, Hofland made reference to a statement that Larrabee told police about the shirt he was wearing on the day he entered the school. Hofland said Larrabee’s recollection that he was wearing a plaid type shirt did not match the police account of what occurred that day.

Larrabee, however, countered he has always testified that the shirt Hofland was wearing that day was a plaid shirt that was long and green in color.

Hofland then went back to questioning Larrabee about what happened during their encounter prior to Hofland’s appearance at the fifth grade classroom.

“Didn’t I say I didn’t want to hurt anyone?” asked Hofland.

“You didn’t say anything,” said Larrabee.

Hofland then asked Larrabee what he did after he got the kids and staff to Searsport Elementary School on his bus.

“I went in the kitchen and I called my wife,” recalled Larrabee. “I had a cup of coffee. I just couldn’t believe what I was going through.”

The trial was cut short due to inclement weather at 3:30 p.m., and Hjelm told the jury that testimony would resume at 10 a.m. Wednesday, as the storm was expected to cause icy travel conditions.