Alaska Airlines Flight Diverted After Pastor Accused of Assaulting Wife


A 75-year-old pastor from Williamsburg, Virginia, faces federal charges after allegedly striking his epileptic wife in the head on a flight to Alaska. Roger Holmberg Sr. was arrested on July 2 after the incident, which occurred on an Alaska Airlines flight from Seattle to Anchorage.

According to an FBI affidavit, the incident began when Holmberg discovered his wife had been upgraded to first class. He became upset and struck her on the head, prompting her to explain that she was a gold point member. The victim told authorities that Holmberg had a history of abusing her, including breaking her finger in September last year.

The victim also stated that Holmberg was aware of her epilepsy and that hitting her in the head could trigger a seizure. She claimed that she had been wanting to report his alleged abuse but had not done so until the plane incident.

Two witnesses corroborated the victim’s account, with one stating that Holmberg swung at his wife after asking her how she had obtained the upgrade. The victim told authorities that Holmberg had a history of being violent and that she had been subjected to physical and emotional abuse.

In his statement to police, Holmberg claimed that he had only “tapped” his wife on the head to get her attention and denied being a violent person. He stated that the couple had been attending marriage counseling and that she had anger issues. Holmberg also claimed that he had broken her finger after she grabbed his leg while he was driving and accused her of previously grabbing his genitals with force.

Holmberg was taken into custody and charged with simple assault, with a potential penalty of a fine and/or up to six months in prison if convicted. He is listed as the pastor of Grace Baptist Temple in Anchorage and as “Alaska’s #1 Gospel Singer.”

Brian Reese
Brian Reese
Digital Reporter focusing on local government and culture.

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