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Conservation officer honored for role in arrest of Indiana man attempting to steal semitruck in Kalamazoo County

The man had earlier murdered two people in Calhoun County

A longtime Michigan conservation officer recently was recognized for his bravery and heroism that contributed to the safe arrest, in April 2020, of an Indiana man who stabbed a semitruck driver in Kalamazoo County and was attempting to steal the truck following an accident on the I-94 highway.

Earlier this week at a Michigan Department of Natural Resources staff meeting in Grand Haven, Sgt. Chris Holmes received the DNR Law Enforcement Division’s Distinguished Service Award for his role in the arrest of that man, Kenneth Hoskins, 59, of South Bend.

Because this incident occurred during the COVID-19 pandemic, the in-person award presentation to Holmes was delayed.

“This high honor represents the exceptional standards of professionalism and selflessness that conservation officers hold themselves to,” said DNR LED Chief Dave Shaw. “We are proud of Sgt. Holmes, who risked his own life to ensure the safety of bystanders and responding officers. He was instrumental in peacefully apprehending an actively dangerous murderer.

“The delay in presenting the award also highlights the fact that conservation officers are among the many first-line responders who willingly serve their communities and protect public safety in the face of challenging circumstances.”

Holmes was patrolling Kalamazoo County when local dispatch reported a vehicle-semi collision on westbound I-94, near mile marker 82 in Comstock Township. Holmes began driving to the location when dispatch provided an update that someone at the scene stabbed a semitruck driver and was trying to steal the truck.  

Nearing the scene, Holmes observed a semitruck “hopping” on westbound I-94, attempting to drive away. The semi was being operated by someone – Hoskins – who matched the description provided by dispatch. Hoskins, lacking the skills to drive the semi, quickly put it in park.

Holmes exited his patrol truck and climbed onto the concrete barrier between west- and eastbound I-94, about 10 feet from the cab of the stopped semi – an elevated position allowing him to see into the cab and communicate Hoskins’ actions to other officers trying to reach the semi.

As officers neared the semi, Holmes witnessed, and shouted to others, that Hoskins had begun harming himself, escalating the need for intervention.

Because the doors to the semi were locked, Lt. Chad Vanderklok, Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety, smashed the passenger window, telling Hoskins to drop a knife he was holding. Hoskins, severely bleeding, dropped the knife. Holmes and Deputy Jeff Nichols, Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, entered the cab, and Hoskins attempted to fight the officers inside the truck. The officers were able to remove Hoskins from the truck, and again he became combative.

Once safely restrained, Hoskins was arrested and placed in the care of paramedics, who transferred him to the hospital in critical condition.

After clearing the scene, Holmes was later informed by the Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office that Hoskins was the suspect in a double homicide that occurred earlier that day in Battle Creek.

Hoskins remained in jail until he was charged in January 2023 with two counts of second-degree murder in Calhoun County. He is currently serving a 20-year minimum sentence in a Michigan Department of Corrections facility.

The semitruck driver who was stabbed sustained minor injuries and was released from the hospital the same day.

The Kalamazoo County Sheriff’s Office, the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety and the Michigan State Police assisted with this incident.

Free and confidential help for anyone considering self-harm is available 24/7 through the Suicide and Crisis Hotline by calling of texting 988.

Holmes has been a DNR conservation officer since 2002 and is a supervisor in southwest Michigan.

Michigan conservation officers are fully licensed law enforcement officers who provide natural resources protection, ensure recreational safety, and protect residents through general law enforcement and conducting lifesaving operations in the communities they serve. Learn more at Michigan.gov/ConservationOfficers.


Note to editors: An accompanying photo is available below for download. Caption information follows.

Award: Sgt. Chris Holmes, a Michigan Department of Natural Resources conservation officer, received the DNR Law Enforcement Division's Distinguished Service Award for his role in helping to safely arrest a man who, in April 2020, murdered two people in Calhoun County and then later stabbed a semitruck driver and tried to steal the truck on I-94 in Kalamazoo County. Holmes received the award this week during a DNR staff meeting in Grand Haven. Pictured (L to R) are Capt. David Malloch, Sgt. Chris Holmes and Lt. Gerald Thayer.

Contact: Lt. Gerald Thayer, 269-204-7045