A member of the National Guard went rogue and terrorised a group of senior citizens on a bus tour of Cape Cod as part of an effort to help Ron DeSantis’s campaign to bus migrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard.
The shocking scene played out last Monday, according to the Cape Cod Times, which interviewed the bus driver and spoke with local National Guard officials. But the proof of the incident itself comes from the hand of the perpetrator, who live-streamed his threatening behaviour on Facebook.
In the video, 51-year-old Lt Col Christopher Hoffman is heard praising Ron DeSantis’s scheme to bus migrants to his state as he follows a bus closely along a route to their destination.
Mr Hoffman’s video comes to an end before the actual confrontation begins, but another, private video shared with the Times showed Mr Hoffman attempting to confront the bus driver and demand to investigate the occupants of the vehicle — something neither a private citizen nor a member of the National Guard, particularly one off-duty, has the right to do.
That video, which was shared with the Times on the condition it not be published, appears to be shot from the perspective of one of the tour participants or another hotel guest. A transcription was produced by the newspaper.
"You're interfering with my tour," says the bus driver in the video.
"I want to see what's going on," responded Mr Hoffman.
"It's none of your business what's going on," the bus driver quips in response.
"I have every right as a US citizen to see what's going on," Mr Hoffman says, asserting a right he does not have. "You know what I'm talking about."
According to the bus driver, Michael Vaughn, Mr Hoffman repeatedly insisted that he thought migrants were on board the bus. But it’s unclear why that would necessitate Mr Hoffman’s intervention — there’s no valid reason that a member of the National Guard would need to “intercept” one of the buses chartered by Florida’s governor to transport migrants across the United States, and especially no reason for such a Guard officer to harass private US citizens.
Mr Vaughn told the Times that Mr Hoffman followed the bus for miles, while tailing the vehicle at an extremely unsafe distance.
"He harassed us to death," Mr Vaughn told the Times. "Everybody was scared to death."
Mr Hoffman did not respond to requests for comment from the newspaper, but officials for the state National Guard condemned the reported actions of their fellow Guardsman and vowed to investigate.
“The Massachusetts National Guard considers the conduct of this soldier to be inappropriate and inconsistent with our military values," said Col Mark Kalin, commander of the state Army National Guard. "We are currently working to ensure our service member is evaluated and receives any services he may need, while also reviewing appropriate disciplinary actions. The incident is currently under investigation and no further information is available at this time.”