Man arrested after nearly 15-hour standoff in Van Buren County

Jason Kohlhoff Lacota standoff061516
Courtesy photo of Jason Kohlhoff.


GENEVA TOWNSHIP, Mich. (WOOD) — A man was arrested early Wednesday morning following a nearly 15-hour standoff in rural Van Buren County.

Multiple sources confirm Jason Kohlhoff, 41, was arrested after an hours-long standoff at a home near 60th Street and 4th Avenue just south of the community of Lacota, about eight miles east of South Haven.

The suspect made contact with Michigan State Police just before 1 a.m. Wednesday saying he would give up if he could speak with a Van Buren County deputy that he knew. The deputy came to the scene and around 1:45 a.m. and Kohlhoff surrendered to officers. He was then taken to the Van Buren County Jail.

MSP says the Van Buren County Prosecutor’s Office has authorized charges of felony carrying of a dangerous weapon with unlawful intent, felony assault with a dangerous weapon and misdemeanor reckless use of a firearm. The suspect’s arraignment could happen as soon as Wednesday afternoon.

The suspect opened fire toward police four times during the standoff, prompting officers to respond with gunfire of their own. No one was hurt.

Lacota standoff
The home just south of the community of Lacota where the standoff occurred. (June 15, 2016)

The bomb squad returned to the house around 8 a.m. to make sure it was safe. They have since cleared it and detectives are expected to come out to search the home.

Police say the standoff suspect previously made threats against an Allegan County judge. They said a plainclothes MSP detective went to the property to investigate around 11 a.m. on Tuesday, identified himself as an officer and started talking to the suspect.

The suspect became “extremely upset and agitated,” at which point he went inside, then came back out armed with a long gun. He fired a shot “in the general direction of the detective” MSP said, and went back inside.

The detective, who wasn’t hurt, retreated and called for backup. The man barricaded himself in the home, police soon established a perimeter and the standoff began.

“Certainly we take this very seriously, if someone fires a round,” Lt. Ouwinga said. “I don’t know what his intention was this morning. When someone fires a round at one of our detectives within close proximity, we’re going to take that very seriously. We don’t want to see any citizens hurt; we don’t want to see any of our officers obviously hurt, as well; certainly don’t want to see him hurt, either.”

24 Hour News 8’s crew on the scene heard more than a dozen shots around 5:20 p.m., more than six hours after the standoff started. Media was pushed back before a second series of shots was heard. A third set of shots was heard around 6 p.m. and officers could be seen taking cover next to their vehicles. There was a long fourth volley around 6:40 p.m. After that, it was quiet for hours.

MSP said its negotiators talked to the man several times via phone, but they weren’t able to make contact with him following the last bout of gunfire.

“We want to make sure our officers go home safe at night, we want to make sure the citizens in the area and as well as the person in the house goes home safe,” said Lt. Angel Ouwinga, the assistant commander for MSP’s Wayland Post. “That’s why we’re taking this slow, walking through things methodically, and trying to still communicate with him and resolve things. So hopefully that will happen soon.”

There was a large police presence, including MSP and the Van Buren County’s Sheriff’s Office. After family members apparently told police the suspect recently bought explosives, they brought in their bomb squad. Later, an MSP helicopter was circling overhead to provide an extra light source as daylight faded.

The Red Cross was providing officers with water and refreshment for officers on the scene.

Neighbors watched the scene for hours.

“Since 1 o’clock, we’ve heard about four bursts of gunfire with the last one lasting about 30 seconds,” neighbor Al Willis said. “Actually I was able to witness them (police) pulling the door off of the home as well with the ram truck, too. So it’s been a pretty intense scene.”

Among the watchers was Helena Kincaid, who said the man involved in the standoff is a member of her stepsister’s family. She said he is going through a divorce.

“Sometimes he seemed like he was an OK guy and other times he was just not cool at all. Like, he can be prick,” she said.

Family members said the man had explosives and makes his own ammunition. Neighbors also said he is a certified medical marijuana grower.

–24 Hour News 8’s Leon Hendrix and Sarah Hurwitz contributed to this report.

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