BELFAST  —  Students testifying in the trial of a Maine man accused of taking a fifth-grade classroom hostage say he told them he was “in a lot of trouble,” and that the hostages would provide protection.

Six former fourth- and fifth-graders from Stockton Springs Elementary School testified Thursday about their harrowing ordeal on Oct. 31, 2008. Randall Hofland, who’s defending himself against 41 criminal charges, was eventually tackled by a state police trooper. No children were hurt.

The Bangor Daily News says Ray Jones, a family friend of one of the students, said it wasn’t right for the children to face Hofland again.

When he showed at the school, Hofland had been on the lam for eight days after allegedly pointing a gun at a police officer.