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Monday, Apr 22, 2024

Middlebury student reportedly stabbed on College Street, with suspect in custody for attempted murder

A student at Middlebury College was stabbed repeatedly yesterday, March 20, while walking down College Street with another person at around 8 p.m. The pair fled to a nearby residence following the stabbing and called 911.

After an extended pursuit on foot from College St. to Otter Creek, officers took Jerry L. Hoffman, 31, into custody for the stabbing, charging him with attempted murder, according to Middlebury Police Chief Jason Covey in a press release this morning.

The victim was taken to Porter Hospital by Middlebury Regional EMS and later transported to UVM Medical Center, according to the press release. He is in stable condition, according to an email on March 21 from Demitria Kirby, Middlebury College associate vice president of Safety, and Smita Ruzicka, vice president for Student Affairs. The female person who was with the victim and called 911 was uninjured. 

“We are grateful for the fast and expert care our emergency first responders provided to our student during this incident, and to the Middlebury Police Department and other responding agencies for their quick response,” Kirby and Ruzicka wrote.

Middlebury Department of Public Safety informed the college community of police presence on Franklin St. at 8:13 p.m. Wednesday night through the MiddAlert system, notifying students via text, email and phone call. The college urged students to remain indoors until an “all clear” update was issued, which came at 8:40 p.m. Most students were not on campus as it was the college’s spring break week. 

Middlebury Police Department stated that the attack appears to have been at random and there is no ongoing threat to the community.

After receiving the uninjured person’s 911 call at 7:51 p.m., officers responded to the scene and found Hoffman outside his residence on College Street, according to the press release. He was wielding two knives, refused commands to drop them and then fled the scene. Officers pursued him, and Hoffman entered Otter Creek, where he stopped and eventually dropped the knives. 

After being apprehended, he was taken to Porter Hospital to be evaluated for exposure to cold water, then to MPD headquarters. He is currently being held in Marble Valley Correctional Facility without bail for attempted murder.

In addition to local EMS, Middlebury Police Department stated in the press release that they were assisted in the pursuit by Vermont Fish and Wildlife, Vermont State Police, Vergennes Police and the Middlebury Fire Department.

Hoffman has previously been arrested for various crimes. In June 2019, he was arrested for assault, disorderly conduct and unlawful mischief after punching three people in downtown Burlington, according to reporting from VTDigger. He served 90 days in jail, and after being released in September that year, Hoffman was cited again a month later for punching strangers unprovoked, according to WCAX3

Before those incidents in 2019, Hoffman was convicted of assault three times, and had a “long history of intoxication and causing a commotion in the Middlebury area,” according to Burlington Police interviewed by WCAX3. Middlebury police had previously cited him for retail theft after investigating the theft of a bottle of wine from Middlebury Mobil Short Stop on Jan. 3, 2019, according to reporting from the Addison Independent

Hoffman has previously been cited for other minor offenses, including speeding involving an accident in November 2011, underage possession of alcohol in January 2012 and marijuana possession in June 2014, according to public court records from the Vermont Judiciary. All three incidents took place in Addison County.

Kirby shared that Public Safety made the decision to use the MiddAlert system once they had determined that the situation presented a credible threat. 

“Our priority was keeping our community away from the scene while we continued to gather information and assess the threat,” Kirby wrote in an email to The Campus.

Middlebury has previously faced questions over the response time for its MiddAlert system, most recently during a hoax active shooter situation in Davis Family Library last April. In that instance, the Middlebury Police Department received the 911 call at 10:30 p.m., but the college did not send an alert through MiddAlerts until 11:53 p.m.

Kirby shared that the protocol for using MiddAlerts has not changed this year, but the college is continuing to be prepared to make timely notifications of dangerous situations on campus.

“We are testing the system more frequently and offering more opportunities for “refresher” trainings to those who haven’t recently sent messages,” Kirby wrote.

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Ryan McElroy

Ryan McElroy '25 (he/him) is a managing editor for The Middlebury Campus.  

He previously served as a news editor and staff writer.  

Ryan is majoring in History with a possible minor in psychology or English. He also takes part in Middlebury Mock Trial and on campus. He spent this past summer working as a research assistant in the History department studying Middle Eastern immigration to New England.