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Will Gerald Hofer, Feared School Attacker in December, Is Sentenced to Probation

| May 20, 2013

Will Hofer, left, in court this morning. (c FlaglerLive)

Will Hofer, left, in court this morning. (c FlaglerLive)

Will Gerald Hofer, the 20-year-old who led police on a daylong chase in December over fears that he might attack a local school, was sentenced to three years’ probation this morning (May 20), with possibility of early probation termination if he fulfills the terms of the sentence. Hofer was freed later in the day. He’d been at the Flagler County jail since Dec. 12 on $101,500 bond.

That day, Hofer, a 20-year-old former honor student at Flagler Palm Coast High School and resident of Zaun Trail who was attending Daytona State College, led police on a frenetic chase when authorities were alerted to a threatening Facebook message they’d connected to him. Authorities feared that Hofer, mourning the recent shooting death of a friend, was planning an attack on a school campus. Hofer was feared to have been in possession of weapons.

The county’s two high schools were locked down. So was the Palm Coast campus of Daytona State.

For six hours, deputies, including the SWAT team and Flagler County Fire Flight, the emergency helicopter, raced around the county, chasing down leads as they searched for Hofer. He was found at or near a house on South Anderson Highway at around 2:30 p.m. and charged with making written threats to kill, as well as a probation violation. (In April 2012 he got probation for possession of a small amount of marijuana.)

Police had been alerted to an Instagram posting attributed to Hofer, under the name of “willhofer1017.” The posting referred to Rick Harper, killed on Dec. 9 during a home invasion. “R.I.P. My brother and best friend I’ve ever had,” the posting said.

No weapons were found in Hofer’s possession, Hofer’s attorney, Michael Lambert, said. And regarding the posting on the Internet, “there is no way to prove who put the statement on there,” Lambert said, nor was a phone found that would tie Hofer to the posting. Additionally, the law under which he was charged requires that threats be made directly against a person. The threats cannot be generic or general and lead to charges.

Based on those findings, the State Attorney’s office agreed to a plea. The charged against Hofer was changed to one count of “Offense against computer users,” and sentenced to three years’ probation.

Hofer said he had never been treated for mental health issues, nor was he on any medication.

Under the terms of probation, Hofer must undergo a mental health evaluation and follow any recommended treatment, including counseling. If he does so, his probation may be ended early, Flagler County Circuit Judge J. David Walsh said.

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12 Responses for “Will Gerald Hofer, Feared School Attacker in December, Is Sentenced to Probation”

  1. A.S.F. says:

    I hope his probation is supervised!

    • Anonymous says:

      Get your life on track, Will. We’re pullin for you!

    • NortonSmitty says:

      Supervision? That’s pretty much the definition of probation. And if you’re that scared maybe you can tell me just what this kid actually did? “R.I.P. My brother and best friend I’ve ever had,”? I don’t see even the hint of a threat there.

      • A.S.F. says:

        There are two kinds of probation: Unsupervised and supervised. In the first case, you just need to keep your nose clean (meaning, no more charges within the probationary period.) In the second case, you have to meet with a probation counselor on whatever basis is remanded, along with complying with any other conditions of probation that were set forth (such as random tox screens, mental health and/or substance abuse treatment, etc..)

      • anon says:

        that’s not what he posted. they just added that. that wasn’t the threat they arrested him on. I wouldn’t think that wasn’t obvious. and second. there 2 types of probation, supervised and unsupervised.

  2. Richard says:

    I hope that something is missing from the report above. Surely the phrase “R.I.P. My brother and best friend I’ve ever had,” was not one that triggered a massive manhunt, locking up this youth for 5 months, and the curious criminal charge of “Offense against computer users”.

    • FlaglerLive says:

      We should have made more clear what had triggered the original manhunt–authorities’ fears that Hofer was armed.

  3. Seminole Pride says:

    I hope one of his probation restrictions is to take computer and video game privileges from him. This guy needs to grow up. Perhaps 4 years in the Military will straighten this guy out.

  4. ANONYMOUSAY says:

    I’ll do it for you Flaglelive. School officials observed a repeated exchange of real time text messages by the suspect with a student at the school, where it was indicated a killing spree was pretty much about to begin starting in Flagler Beach through FPC High as well as killing a couple of people with outstanding drug debts. Well that’s the gist of it. The threats were graphic and I believe pictures on Facebook had shown this person displaying an arsenal of weapons in the past.

  5. jim reed says:

    Ok Flaglerlive thanks for clearing things up. Really?? Ok so a man who owns a gun said ” rip my brother..”. Oh ok I see the threat now. Yeah right! WTF??

  6. A.S.F. says:

    Wasn’t this young man already on probation when he was arrested on this offense?

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