The actions of a lieutenant colonel with the Massachusetts Army National Guard are being investigated after local press reported that he followed a bus carrying senior citizens on a trip to Martha’s Vineyard after assuming South American migrants were on board.
Lt. Col. Christopher Hoffman, 51, saw a tour bus of senior citizens headed toward their East Falmouth hotel Sept. 19 when he noted a Florida sticker on the bus, the Cape Cod Times reported.
Hoffman followed the bus for more than 10 miles, terrifying everyone on board, according to the driver, Michael Vaughn, who spoke to the Cape Cod Times.
“He thought there were immigrants on the bus,” Vaughn told the newspaper, following a verbal altercation with Hoffman after they reached their hotel. “He harassed us to death.”
An incident report by Falmouth Police Department Det. Christopher Bartolomei said Hoffman may have been impaired or suffering from a mental health event, according to the Cape Cod Times. The department did not respond to a query Thursday afternoon about whether charges were made against Hoffman.
“He stated he was driving and saw the bus go around the rotary on the highway,” the detective wrote in the report. “He stated he got upset because the bus had Tallahassee on it, and he thought it was more migrants coming from Florida and began following it. He stated he got upset and followed the bus.
“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. He seemed passionate about this,” Bartolomei added.
The incident involving Hoffman is “currently under investigation,” according to the commander of the Massachusetts Army National Guard, Col. Mark Kalin.
“The Massachusetts National Guard considers the conduct of this soldier to be inappropriate and inconsistent with our military values,” Kalin said in a statement provided to Military Times. “We are currently working to ensure our service member is evaluated and receives any services he may need, while also reviewing appropriate disciplinary actions.”
Hoffman also live-streamed his chase to Facebook Live in a now-deleted video, according to the Cape Cod Times, which obtained a copy of the video. He can be heard in the video praising Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for sending migrants to Martha’s Vineyard earlier this month, the Cape Cod Times reported.
The video showed Hoffman driving ahead of the bus and within feet of it, the Cape Cod Times reported, switching lanes when the bus did as Hoffman narrated his actions.
The incident follows the Sept. 14 flight of almost 50 Venezuelan migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard, a move by DeSantis to highlight his dissatisfaction with immigration policies in the U.S.
The migrants were allegedly promised that, after being flown to Martha’s Vineyard, a wealthy vacation spot for many New York and Boston elite, they would be taken to Boston, Julio Henriquez, an attorney who met with several migrants, told the Associated Press.
“They had no idea of where they were going or where they were,” he said, but had been promised jobs and three months of housing in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Boston.
The migrants were given shelter on Joint Base Cape Cod, in addition to access to health care and crisis counseling, translators, food, clothing and case managers to help with temporary housing and even education services for children, a press release from the Massachusetts Emergency Management Agency stated.
More than 100 National Guard members were also activated in response, the press release stated.
Massachusetts Guard officials said they would not pass a request for comment along to Hoffman. The soldier’s LinkedIn profile appears to have been taken down and he could not be reached for comment.
Rachel is a Marine Corps veteran and a master's candidate at New York University's Business & Economic Reporting program.