MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WREG)– A bus full of senior citizens from Memphis was followed for miles by an off-duty National Guard officer after the group was mistaken for illegal immigrants headed to Cape Cod, according to hotel employees and media reports.
Eric Zmuda, the manager of the Admiralty Inn and Suites in Falmouth, Massachusetts, said it happened on September 19 as the Tennessee tourists were traveling along State Route 28 toward their hotel.
“A gentleman had followed them for quite a few miles where they entered Cape Cod, saw some Florida markings on the bus, and assumed they were some of the migrants that had arrived a few days earlier to Martha’s Vinyard,” said Zmuda.
He said the man who was in a pickup truck turned on his high beams and followed the bus all the way to their parking lot.
“He had an interaction with the bus driver in the parking area,” Zmuda said. “He tried to get on the bus, and when he noticed it wasn’t what he thought it was, tried to leave, and the police were there to help out and lead him away,”
According to the Cap Cod Times, the man who tried to board the bus was Lt. Col. Christopher Hoffman, an off-duty officer of the Massachusetts Army National Guard at Joint Base Cape Cod. He reportedly streamed his exchange with the bus driver and passengers on Facebook.
In mid-September, Florida Governor Ron Desantis sent around 50 migrants to Martha’s Vinyard. They were moved to a temporary shelter at Joint Base Cape days later.
Zmuda said the bus carrying the 30-40 Memphians originated from Tallahassee, Florida, and was tailed for about 10 miles.
He said they got all the guests checked into their hotel, and they spent several days in the area.
“They were wonderful folks, and I’m glad they had a good time here. I’m just very sorry they had to experience that as they came in that night.” Zmuda said.
He said this is a busy time for bus tour groups.
In a prepared statement, the Massachusetts National Guard said:
“The Massachusetts National Guard considers the conduct of this soldier to be inappropriate and inconsistent with our military values. 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.” – Col. Mark Kalin, Commander, Massachusetts Army National Guard.