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Pastor facing federal charge after allegedly assaulting his wife over flight upgrade

Written by on July 10, 2024

EllenMoran/Getty Images

(NEW YORK) — A pastor is facing federal charges after he allegedly hit his wife in the head during a flight when she got upgraded and he didn’t.

The incident allegedly occurred on July 2 on board an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage, Alaska.

According to the complaint, Roger Allan Holmberg, Sr. and his wife were traveling for an event related to their ministry.

According to witnesses interviewed by Anchorage Airport Police detailed in the complaint, Holmberg asked his wife, “How the hell did you get the upgrade?”

She responded, “I’m a Gold Point member. Don’t speak to me like that.”

Holmberg allegedly handed his phone to his wife from the aisle while telling her to read it and gestured with his middle finger, according to the complaint.

Some time after handing her his phone, Holmberg allegedly attempted to swing toward his wife and struck the top of her head.

Another witness told airport police, according to the complaint, that Holmberg went to the first-class lavatory after the incident. When he came out, the witness confronted him and said, “If there were any further incidents, we would put him in handcuffs.”

In her interview with airport police, Holmberg’s wife said he struck her in the head with the back of his knuckles. She said Holmberg knew she had epilepsy and contact with her head could cause a seizure. She claimed he had a history of abusing her and had previously broken her finger.

According to the complaint, Holmberg told authorities he was upset that his wife “had been upgraded to first class because he wanted his wife to travel with him and sit next to him. Although he was upset, he stated he was not a violent person and did not intend to hurt his wife.”

He told authorities he “tapped his wife on the head in passing to get her attention,” and added he and his wife had been going to marriage counseling and that his wife was “disrespectful to him often and had anger issues.”

He told authorities of a previous incident where she allegedly grabbed his leg while he was driving and broke her finger.

The complaint said once the flight crew became aware that the incident occurred, they notified law enforcement. Holmberg was arrested upon landing for simple assault and transported to the Anchorage Correctional Center. According to court documents, he has since been released and cannot come within 100 yards of his wife.

In a statement to ABC News, a spokesperson for Alaska Airlines said, “Mr. Holmberg has been banned from our flights and a simple assault charge was filed against him by the U.S. Gov’t. (FBI) on July 3rd.”

Holmberg didn’t respond to a request for comment.

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