When the trial of Randall Hofland resumed Wednesday, Jan. 19, Stockton Springs Elementary School physical education teacher Dan Campbell testified he has done his best to “block out” all that occurred at the school Friday, Oct. 31, 2008.

Campbell said with the exception of his testimony, he has not since discussed the incident with anyone but close family members.

“I have made it clear that I do not want to talk about it,” Campbell said in response to a question from Hofland during cross-examination.

When Hofland pressed Campbell about what he told members of the Maine State Police on the day of the incident at the school, Campbell said minute details of the day have since left his memory bank.

“I don’t remember, and to be honest, I try to block it out of my mind,” said Campbell.

Campbell was the next witness the state called in Hofland’s trial, and throughout his emotional testimony, he relived what happened on the day he encountered Hofland at the school Oct. 31, 2008.

District Attorney Geoffrey Rushlau asked Campbell if he remembered hearing Glen Larrabee’s voice in the vicinity of the cafeteria/gymnasium.

“He said, ‘Let go of him,’” remembered Campbell, adding Larrabee’s voice was uncharacteristically loud.

Campbell said he was in his office nearby, so he went out to see what Larrabee was doing. Campbell said at that point, he saw Larrabee walking toward the service window that opens from the kitchen area. Campbell said Larrabee kept pointing and saying, “Let go of him.”

Then Campbell said he saw a man he did not recognize, as well as Larrabee, several children and another adult he could not identify.

As Campbell drew nearer to Larrabee’s position, he noticed the unknown male standing in front of Larrabee appeared to be “distraught” and “desperate-looking.”

“He was not there as a friendly person,” said Campbell.

Campbell said within seconds of his approach, the unknown man — who was later identified as Hofland — took fast action.

“He instantly grabbed a boy, a fifth-grade boy, and he said ‘He’s mine, he’s going with me,’” recalled Campbell.

“And your instinct, or your suspicion, was that this desperate-looking man was related to [the boy]?” asked Rushlau.

Campbell said he thought Hofland was the youth’s father, and thought the boy was in danger of being assaulted by the man because he appeared agitated.

“He was going to beat [the boy], in my mind,” Campbell said.

Campbell said he remained focused on Hofland’s face, and noticed that he loosened his grip on the boy for a brief moment as he brandished a gun. At that time, Campbell said, Hofland pointed the firearm at his midsection.

Campbell said Hofland kept his finger on the trigger, which made Campbell fear for his life.

“He looked desperate, I thought he was going to pull the trigger,” said Campbell.

Campbell said when he initially went over to help the boy, it was because he thought he needed to separate the boy from an out-of-control parent.

“I had absolutely no thought of a weapon,” recalled Campbell.

Campbell, like witnesses who testified in recent days, said Hofland appeared to be very dirty when he appeared at the school.

Larrabee continued talking with Hofland, said Campbell, and eventually Campbell said he was able to secure his grip on the child and move him away from Hofland.

“I instantly grabbed [the boy] and hollered, ‘Lockdown!’” remembered Campbell.

Rushlau asked Campbell what was going through his mind at that time, and Campbell said he was concerned the man would turn the gun on him because he was still convinced Hofland was the father of the boy.

“I took him from him, and I thought he was going to shoot me,” said Campbell.

Rushlau asked Campbell where he and the child went from there, and Campbell said emergency protocol was to get into the supply room behind the physical education office, shut off the lights and lock the door.

While on the way to the supply room, Campbell said he noticed a second fifth-grade boy in the corridor and took that child along to the supply room.

Rushlau asked Campbell about how both of the boys were acting once they reached the supply room.

One of them kept repeating an expletive over and over again, while the other continuously rubbed his forehead, rocked back and forth while in a seated position and said he couldn’t believe what was happening.

“Had you told [the boy] that you believed the man was a relative of his?” asked Rushlau.

Campbell said he had, but the youth denied knowing the man at all.

Campbell testified the second child then said, “Mr. Campbell, I bet it’s that man the police have been looking for.”

After Campbell and the children talked briefly, Campbell advised the boys to sit quietly.

One of the boys continually asked Campbell to call 911, but due to spotty cell phone reception, Campbell was unable to get a signal on his phone for at least 10 minutes. When Campbell’s phone finally appeared to have reception, Campbell said he opted to call the main office and leave a coded message to let police or other school staff know he had two children with him.

Campbell said he kept the message brief, noting he only identified himself and stated he had two students with him. Campbell said he purposefully did not disclose his location, a precaution in case Hofland was listening to the message as he left it.

Then, the signal dropped off again, and Campbell said that was the last time he was able to use his cell phone in the school.

Campbell said the boy he pulled away from Hofland minutes before kept asking where the man was, and the youth appeared to be afraid the gunman would return to “get us.”

Campbell told the child the gunman was gone and said he had gone out the front door and the police were taking care of it.

“I had hoped it,” said Campbell.

“After some time, were you able to leave the storage room?” asked Rushlau.

“At roughly 9 o’clock, I heard voices, and I noticed they were male voices,” said Campbell. “… My first thought was that it wasn’t good; I had hoped the man had left. I thought it was him.”

The voices got louder, Campbell said, and then he heard a knock at the door. Campbell recalled a man identified himself as a police officer, but Campbell was skeptical, so he asked the man on the other side of the door to re-identify himself. Then, Campbell said, he reluctantly opened the door.

“What did you see when you opened the door?” asked Rushlau.

“I saw two policemen,” said Campbell.

Campbell said he and the two children went with the officers and the officers informed them they were leaving the building.

As the group passed a nearby door that leads directly to the playground, and Campbell said he expressed concerns about taking additional time to get to the main entrance.

Rushlau asked Campbell if he recalled what police told him.

“He said we have a hostage situation, and that’s when my heart dropped,” said Campbell, who grew visibly emotional following that statement.

Campbell said as he and the two students left the building, he saw several police officers positioned in the corridor that leads to the fourth and fifth-grade classrooms. All were pointing weapons down the hallway toward the classrooms, Campbell said.

“When you got out the front door, what did you find?” asked Rushlau.

Campbell recalled seeing a SSES Principal Linda Bowe, as well as several police cars in the parking lot.

“There was a lot of commotion going on,” said Campbell.

Campbell said he put both of the boys who were with him inside Bowe’s van, as the plan was to get the remaining students to Searsport Elementary School.

“I started thinking about what the policeman had said to me,” said Campbell. “I thought it wasn’t going to end well.”

“Did you see students leaving the school?” asked Rushlau.

Campbell said he remembered seeing a group of students running out the front door of the building, and said most of the children appeared to be hysterical.

One youth, however, did not appear shaken, but Campbell said it was characteristic for that particular boy to be more analytical than emotional, personality-wise.

“Some [of the children] were really, in my opinion, losing it, but at that age I would too,” said Campbell.

As he was helping Bowe get children onto the van, Campbell said, he saw police escorting a handcuffed Hofland to a police cruiser.

Campbell said he thought Hofland looked relieved as police led him out of the school.

Rushlau asked Campbell if he heard Hofland say anything at that time, and Campbell said he heard Hofland say he would never hurt the kids.

During cross-examination, Hofland asked Campbell about the statement he offered to Maine State Police later that day, when Campbell met police at Brewer High School to offer his account of the incident. Hofland also inquired about how long Campbell had worked at SSES, and about when he saw Larrabee and cook Sandra Sylvester again after the hostage incident.

Campbell said his memory was not clear on exactly when and where he saw either Larrabee or Sylvester again, and said he likely saw them when he returned to the school for gym classes the following week.

Then, Hofland began asking about the kind of cell phone carrier Campbell had at the time of the incident, but Rushlau soon objected based on relevance and Justice Jeffrey Hjlem sustained the objection.

As he had done with prior witnesses, Hofland asked Campbell to draw a diagram of the gymnasium to show where people were positioned when Larrabee initially tried to intervene on behalf of the boy.

“What happened at that point in time again?” asked Hofland.

“When I recognized who Mr. Larrabee was shouting at, you had a hold of [the boy’s] arm and you were shaking him,” said Campbell. “… I was going to separate you from what I thought was your son.”

Campbell said he remained focused on Hofland’s face until Hofland briefly loosened his grip on the boy and pulled out the gun.

“I went from thinking that you were going to beat him to thinking that you were going to kill him,” said Campbell.

Hofland then asked Campbell to review the transcript of the statement he gave to police, and asked a series of questions that suggested Hofland was trying to establish that Campbell made inconsistent statements.

Rushlau objected, noting Campbell’s testimony had been no different than what was noted in the transcript. Hjlem sustained Rushlau’s objection.

During the afternoon session, the jury heard from SSES fifth-grade teacher Carolyn Russell.

Russell recalled at the beginning of the day, students were excited about Halloween festivities scheduled to take place later that afternoon and said that morning began with students getting breakfast in the cafeteria/gymnasium.

Rushlau asked if Russell recalled hearing any messages come over the school’s intercom system.

“What did you hear?” asked Rushlau.

“Code blue,” said Russell.

Russell explained “code blue” means the school is in lockdown mode and said the reasons for a code blue vary.

“The code blue could mean that there’s someone in the building who’s not supposed to be in the building,” she said.

Russell said usual actions in that situation are to get the children inside the classroom, gather them into a safe hiding spot and lock the classroom door.

Rushlau asked Russell if she became aware not all of her students were in the classroom, and Russell said she first noticed when she spotted two of her students acting confused in the hallway. Hofland, she said, was right behind the children.

“I yelled for them to run,” said Russell.

Russell said the children then ran for her classroom and Hofland took off after them.

“I got the door closed but not locked,” said Russell, who remained composed through her testimony. “Immediately [Hofland] was on the opposite side of the door.”

Russell said classroom doors could be locked though a teacher needed to check to doorknob facing the hallway to make sure the door was locked.

Russell said as Hofland got a grip on the door handle, she noticed he had a gun.

“He pulled and pulled to open it,” remembered Russell.

Russell said she placed both hands on the doorknob, sat down on the floor and planted her feet on either side of the door to prevent Hofland from gaining entry.

“Suddenly I heard a large, guttural noise and then he pulled the door all the way open,” said Russell.

The force knocked the teacher to the floor and off to the left, and Russell said she used a chair to return to her feet and confront the man who was entering her classroom.

Russell said she saw Hofland walk in with his gun at his side, and that his head was turning back and forth as if he were trying to assess the situation.

“He kept saying, ‘I don’t want to hurt anybody, I don’t want to hurt anybody,’” said Russell.

“After he entered the classroom, did he point the gun at you?” asked Rushlau.

“Yes,” replied Russell.

Russell said Hofland came to her with the gun pointed at her, and began walking toward her. Russell said she continued walking backward and asked him to “please leave.” She said she also told him of a way to escape the building.

“He said, ‘No, the children are my protection,’” recalled Russell.

Once Hofland backed Russell out of the classroom, she said, the door slammed shut and Hofland was alone with the children.

“Once you were outside the classroom, what did you do?” asked Rushlau.

Russell said she lingered outside the door briefly and she saw Hofland walk across the room directly to the spot where the children were located. Then, Russell said she went down the hallway in search of an open classroom or office so she could call 911.

Russell found the doors on all of the rooms were locked, and then she decided to yell out for people to call 911, and notify anyone within earshot that the man was holding her students hostage at gunpoint.

Soon, Russell arrived at the main office area, where she found parent volunteer Mary Halbert. Halbert, Russell said, took her into a conference room and comforted her as police were arriving.

“I was shaking all over, and I was kind of weepy,” said Russell. “How do you describe it when you can’t stop sobbing?”

Russell recalled two fifth-grade girls were able to escape the classroom and locate Russell in the conference room, and they were soon led out to the parking lot, where Larrabee was loading students on his bus, preparing to evacuate the building.

Minutes after the girls got on the bus, Russell said two more girls came to her in the conference room and were “shaking all over” and crying uncontrollably.

Russell said she tried to calm the girls before she took a phone call from former Searsport District High School Principal Gregg Palmer and a dispatcher to offer her account of what happened. Then, she said, she returned to the girls in the conference room, who were still very upset.

Russell said when it came time to get the remaining children out to Bowe’s van, she saw the rest of the fifth-graders running down the hall and out the door. She said they were “screaming and crying” as they left the building.

“As we were pulling out of the driveway I saw the officers bringing Mr. Hofland out of the school,” she said.

“What was the thought you had after you saw the gun?” asked Rushlau.

“That he was going to kill me,” said Russell.

Hofland asked Russell if she had suffered any injury as a result of the incident, and she said she had.

“Yes, my muscles were pulled and torn,” said Russell, noting that her right hip had been pulled out of its socket and that her right shoulder muscle had been torn as a result of her trying to prevent Hofland from entering her classroom.

The Hofland asked Russell to review the transcript from her interview with Maine State Police troopers, and again offered questions suggesting Russell’s testimony did not match what she told police on the day of the event.

At one point, Hofland asked Russell if he told her the children were for his protection, or if he made the statement to another school staffer.

“You testified that I told you that,” said Hofland.

“When you were in my classroom, yes you did,” she said.

Russell said because the intercom system was on, everyone in the building could possibly hear Hofland’s comments.

Hofland continued to ask Russell about her prior statements, and how they compared to her testimony.

“My memory is very good if that’s what you’re asking,” she said. “I’m not relying on these paper documents.”

Then, Hofland requested Russell demonstrate the position she was in on the floor of her classroom while she was attempting to keep him from entering the room. Rushlau objected, and Hjelm swiftly sustained.

In addition to Campbell and Russell, the jury also heard brief testimony from SSES first-grade teacher Erin Ireland, who testified that she could see Hofland prying open the door to the fifth-grade classroom as she was trying to lock up her own classroom.