An officer with the Massachusetts Army National Guard has been summonsed to a Cape Cod courthouse after he made headlines Sept. 19 for following a bus full of senior citizens that police said the soldier believed were migrants being brought to Martha’s Vineyard.
Lt. Col. Christopher Hoffman, 51, faces charges of operating a vehicle under the influence of liquor, negligent operation of a motor vehicle, possession of an open container of alcohol in a motor vehicle and disorderly conduct, Falmouth police Lt. Michael Simoneau told the Cape Cod Times.
Information concerning the date of the hearing has not been given, but the charges against Hoffman will be heard in a private clerk magistrate’s office, Simoneau said. Under Massachusetts state law, magistrate hearings and connected records are not public.
In September, Hoffman followed a bus carrying senior citizens on a trip to Martha’s Vineyard for nearly 10 miles after assuming South American migrants were on board.
The incident came just days after Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis flew almost 50 Venezuelan migrants to the vacation spot under false pretenses. More than 100 National Guard troops were activated in response to DeSantis’s move and the migrants were given shelter on Joint Base Cape Cod.
Hoffman followed the bus after he saw a Florida sticker on it. He was upset thinking more migrants were coming to the area, Falmouth Police Department Det. Christopher Bartolomei said after the incident.
“He spoke about a friend that he could not get over from Afghanistan and he got emotional about this and was mad that the migrants were here and not his friend,” the detective reported. The Cape Cod Times reported that Hoffman deployed to Afghanistan in 2010 and 2011.
The incident terrified everyone on the bus, driver Michael Vaughn told the Cape Cod Times last month. Hoffman also harassed hotel staff once the bus made it to Admiralty Inn & Suites, according to hotel staff who spoke with the Cape Cod Times.
The incident was live-streamed to Hoffman’s Facebook page, but that video has since been taken down.
“The criminal charges against this service member are very serious,” Massachusetts Guard officials said in an unsigned email in response to an Army Times query about the latest developments in Hoffman’s case.
“Due to the civilian nature of these alleged crimes, the civilian criminal justice system holds jurisdiction over this matter and it is anticipated that Christopher Hoffman will face legal proceedings in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” the email reads. “Once the civilian proceedings are complete, the Massachusetts National Guard will take appropriate action.”
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master's candidate at New York University's Business & Economic Reporting program.