VASSAR – Vassar police officer Jody Grant didn’t figure city resident Joshua M. Rosebush as a guy who would shoot a cop.
“It was shocking,” Grant said on Thursday, two days after police arrested 29-year-old Rosebush following a 10-hour manhunt after Rosebush was suspected of shooting Saginaw Township Officer Jeff Koenig.
Police report Koenig survived after being shot in the face and shoulder about 2:12 a.m. Tuesday, stating Rosebush himself was shot that afternoon after he exchanged gunfire with officers who had stopped a stolen truck he drove in Shiawassee County.
“It was shocking to realize he had gotten to that level,” said Grant, noting he had encountered Rosebush several times in recent years before the prison parolee fled Vassar Jan. 3 – apparently after removing an electronic tether monitoring his whereabouts.
“Everybody’s capable of rising to that level, and at any point, they can fall over that edge, and I think that’s probably what happened with him,” Grant said. “He fell over that edge, and rose to a pretty high level of violence.”
Rosebush survived the Tuesday afternoon shooting and officers arrested him, ending a 20-day alleged crime spree that began in Vassar where Rosebush is suspected of stealing a Dodge pickup truck along West Maple Street before fleeing the city.
The Dodge truck was found early on the morning of Jan. 3 in a ditch near the corner of Garner and Wilder roads in Denmark Township, about one mile from where Rosebush is suspected of stealing a Ford pickup truck belonging to Nick Dey about 6:15 a.m. that day.
The Ford was found days later near the Clare County village of Farwell, and nearby it was discovered a 1999 Chevrolet Suburban had been stolen, only to be found later abandoned in Flint.
Early Tuesday, police report Koenig pulled over a Dodge truck driving without its headlights on in Saginaw County’s Kochville Township. As Koenig approached to warn the driver about the lights, the driver opened fire on Koenig, according to police, who noted the Dodge drove off as Koenig radioed for help.
The ensuing manhunt for Rosebush focused, in part, on Vassar, where state and federal authorities arrived Tuesday, along with law enforcement personnel from several counties, according to Grant.
“The state and federal resources that were all over the city the other day, working in conjunction with the police department – just in case (Rosebush) was coming back to Vassar … were incredible,” Grant said.
As of Friday morning, a fundraising page on Facebook entitled “Expenses for Officer Koenig and his family” had raised $174,480.
While Koenig continues recovering at an Ann Arbor hospital, Rosebush was reported recovering in a Lansing hospital, though he hadn’t been arraigned on criminal charges in any county as of Friday.
Rosebush has been convicted of 13 felonies in Michigan, according to state records, and was sentenced most recently in 2016 in Tuscola County for assaulting or obstructing a police officer, and for two counts of stealing or retaining a financial transaction device without consent.
“In my personal interactions with him – and I’ve had several – they’ve always been peaceful,” Grant said. “He’s never been adversarial or resistant; he’s always been cooperative during the occasions I’ve had contact with him.”
Both Grant, and several Vassar-area residents who believe they were victims of Rosebush during his alleged crime spree, expressed relief that Rosebush is in custody.
Darlene Kern, 57, of Vassar, said residents of her neighborhood tracked the same set of footprints – believed to belong to Rosebush – on Jan. 3 after they realized a neighbor’s Dodge truck had been stolen early that morning.
“It was scary to think that from 2 a.m. to 6 a.m., he was wandering our neighborhood and nobody saw him, or heard him, or anything,” said Kern, noting someone ransacked the car of her son, Jesse Kern, 25, after he arrived home from a fitness club early that morning.
“Jesse missed (the suspect) by just a few minutes,” Kern said. “He normally leaves the keys inside the car but he didn’t that night, thank God.”
Though Rosebush is in custody, “you still don’t know when it’s going to hit your neighborhood, and we definitely are taking a lot more precautions now, and locking things down tighter,” Kern said.
Nick Dey, 34, who lives about five miles northwest of Vassar in Denmark Township, said his mind occasionally wandered after Rosebush remained at large – considering police suspect Rosebush stole Dey’s Ford pickup truck from Dey’s yard on Jan. 3.
“I wouldn’t think he would come back after that, but there was always that thought in the back of your mind that ‘What if he tries to come back, and steal something else? Or worse?’” said Dey.
When news reports identified Rosebush as the suspect in Koenig’s shooting, Dey said the situation felt “crazy.”
“My wife and brother-in-law texted me right away, and my Facebook page was going crazy with people saying ‘Oh my God, that’s the guy that was at your house!’” Dey said.
The thief who took Dey’s truck later jammed a screwdriver in the ignition – preventing the truck from starting – and the truck also came home with front-end damage, said Dey, who left the truck unlocked with the keys inside the vehicle on Jan. 3.
Dey said he received $300 in wrecker bills, and had to buy a replacement vehicle for the truck.
“We’re looking at buying the parts to fix the pickup and see if we can’t get it back on the road,” Dey said.
Dey said he’s trying not to believe the crimes have changed his quiet life in the country. He said he still loves the area and its residents, but he has adopted a sense of vigilance.
“I’ve definitely been more conscious about making sure the doors are locked, and making sure the vehicles are all locked, and locking up all the sheds,” Dey said. “It’s just taking more precautions and not being so lackadaisical with home security.
“We also oil certain objects in my house to make sure they’re in working order. I don’t want to come out and say what, but the simple fact of it is that I’d rather be prepared and not use it, than not be prepared.”
Tom Gilchrist is a staff writer for The Advertiser and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.