Five officers serving drug warrant hit in shootout with wanted suspect in Minnesota

October 13, 2023
Ben Marquis

While there are many dangerous aspects to the job of a police officer, arguably one of the biggest dangers is serving arrest and search warrants, particularly when the subject of those warrants doesn't want them to be served.

Such was the case in rural Minnesota Thursday morning when five police officers were shot in a "critical incident" while attempting to serve a warrant on a wanted suspect, according to Fox News.

Thankfully for those five officers and their families, none of them suffered life-threatening injuries. Nor was the suspect killed after shooting the five officers, though he was injured and airlifted away from the scene after eventually being taken into custody following an hours-long standoff.

Five officers plus suspect wounded in shooting

According to local Fox affiliate KMSP, members of the Sherburne County Drug Task Force arrived at a residence in rural Glendorado Township to serve a warrant on a suspect known to local law enforcement around 7 a.m. but quickly ran into trouble in doing so.

The 64-year-old suspect opened fire on the officers as they gained entry into the home and a shootout ensued in which five officers were hit, though only three actually suffered gunshot wounds that required treatment while the other two were hit in their bulletproof vests and were quickly checked out and released from a nearby hospital.

Three of those that were hit were from the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office, while the other two were investigators from the Princeton Police Department and Elk River Police Department.

As noted, the suspect was airlifted from the scene to a hospital to be treated for unspecified injuries, and a woman who was also in the home at the time of the "critical incident," according to the Benton County Sheriff's Office, which also participated in the resultant standoff, was transported to a hospital for medical treatment but was shortly thereafter released.

Wanted suspect engaged in shootout with officers serving warrant

Following the initial reports that five officers had been shot, Democratic Minnesota Gov. Tim Walz said in a statement, "Today there was a horrific incident in Benton County where five officers were shot. Thankfully no one was killed and the suspect is now in custody. My thoughts are with the officers as they recover, and we’re keeping in close touch with the local authorities."

According to the Associated Press, the suspect has now been identified as Karl Thomas Holmberg, 64, and he has been charged with six counts each of both attempted first-degree murder of a peace officer and first-degree assault of a peace officer. He appeared in court Friday to be arraigned on those charges and bail was set at $6 million with no conditions or $3 million conditional release, with his next court date scheduled for Oct. 24.

Per court documents, Holmberg had been alerted to the police presence at his home by his wife and he quickly responded by hunkering down in the bedroom with several firearms at the ready, and reportedly told his wife that "it was his day to die."

As police gained entry into the home, the man opened fire through the closed bedroom door, striking five of the six officers inside. He reportedly urged his wife to join him in the shootout and ensuing four-hour standoff with police and denounced her as a "coward" when she refused to do so.

Holmberg, who has multiple prior drug-related convictions, was ultimately shot in the foot. It is unclear if any drugs were found by the task force serving a drug-related warrant.

Incident could have ended in multiple deaths

Per the AP, an investigation is ongoing and bodycam footage of the incident will be withheld from the public until the investigation is complete. The names of the officers involved may also never be known, as they were reportedly working undercover on the drug task force.

This incident could have ended up much worse for all parties involved, and everybody is lucky to have only sustained relatively minor and non-life-threatening injuries, though it does prove yet again just how dangerous and risky the job of law enforcement truly is.

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