5 Minn. officers on drug task force wounded in shootout after attempting to serve a search warrant
When the officers announced their arrival, they immediately came under fire
By Mark Vancleave and Steve Karnowski
FOLEY, Minn. — Five drug task force officers and a 64-year-old man were injured in an exchange of gunfire Thursday as the officers served a search warrant at a property in rural Minnesota, authorities said.
Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck said at a news conference that the officers announced their arrival at a home in Glendorado Township around 7 a.m. and immediately came under fire. He said they returned fire and retreated. The officers’ injuries were not life-threatening, Heck said.
Karl Thomas Holmberg was taken into custody around 10:45 a.m. after several hours of negotiations, the sheriff said. Aerial video from KARE-TV showed officers in tactical gear surrounding a shirtless male, then officers and EMTs escorting him on a stretcher to a hospital helicopter. Heck said he didn’t know the extent of Holmberg’s injuries.
“This has been a difficult day for us in Benton County,” Heck said. “We are grateful that the incident did not result in loss of life or further injury. We are also grateful for the bravery and professionalism of all those law enforcement professionals that were involved in this incident.”
Local TV stations showed officers in tactical gear converging on homes in a rural area surrounded by trees and fields, with an armored vehicle nearby. Glendorado Township is about 50 miles (80 kilometers) northwest of Minneapolis.
The officers were working undercover as part of the Sherburne County Drug Task Force, and their names will not be released, Heck said.
Three of the injured officers were taken to North Memorial Hospital in the Minneapolis suburb of Robbinsdale, where they remained hospitalized Thursday afternoon. Two others were struck in their bullet-resistant vests were treated then released from CentraCare Hospital in St. Cloud.
Holmberg was also taken to North Memorial, and a woman who was in the home during the shooting was taken to another hospital for evaluation.
Holmberg was already known to law enforcement in the area and Heck said he was not surprised by the shooting.
Court records show Holmberg was convicted of cocaine possession in 1986 and another felony drug possession in 2006. Most recently, in 2019, he was convicted of a petty misdemeanor for not wearing his seatbelt in a vehicle.
It’s not clear if Holmberg has a lawyer who can speak on his behalf. Charges have not yet been filed and a public defender has not been appointed, according to the Benton County Attorney’s Office.
One of Holmberg’s former lawyers, Todd Young, said he hasn’t spoken to him in years. Messages left for relatives of Holmberg were not immediately returned.
The state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension was investigating, as it often does in shootings involving law enforcement officers. Authorities said they were limited in the details they could disclose Thursday.
“Once our primary investigation is complete, we will be able to share more information about exactly how today’s incident unfolded,” Michelle Frascone, special agent in charge at the BCA, told reporters. “Incidents like what happened today are scary and unsettling for the community. We want everybody to know that we are working as quickly as possible to provide answers.”
Karnowski reported from Minneapolis. AP reporters Summer Ballantine in Columbia, Missouri; Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas; and AP news researcher Jennifer Farrar in New York contributed to this report.