GLENDORADO TOWNSHIP, Minn. - Five officers with a search warrant were shot Thursday morning during an exchange of gunfire with a man who was inside his home with numerous guns, according to law enforcement sources.
The officers, all part of a drug task force from a nearby county, were expected to survive their injuries, Benton County Sheriff Troy Heck said. Two were hit in their bullet-resistant vests and released from medical facilities, while the others remained hospitalized Thursday .
The suspect, 64-year-old Karl Thomas Holmberg, was wounded before his apprehension but the extent and cause of his injuries were not immediately known, Heck said. A woman who was in Holmberg's house, just west of Princeton, Minn., during the shootout was evaluated at a local hospital and released. No one else was in the house at the time, Heck said.
The officers, assigned to the Sherburne County Drug Task Force, had arrived to search Holmberg's home in the 200 block of NE. 190th Avenue shortly after 7 a.m. Thursday. They shouted from outside the house that they were there, but when they entered the house they were met with gunfire, Heck said, adding that "it unfolded very quickly."
The officers retreated, and for several hours negotiations with Holmberg continued as officers urged him to surrender. Holmberg eventually gave up, and he was arrested at 10:47 a.m.
Heck declined to answer questions about the guns used, if Holmberg lawfully owned any weapons or who did the shooting, saying the investigation continues. A copy of the search warrant that was being served at the time of the shooting was not immediately available.
Holmberg's criminal history includes a felony drug conviction in 2006 and another conviction for the same offense in the mid-1980s, according to court records.
Heck said he was aware of Holmberg before Thursday's shooting. Asked if he was surprised by what took place, he said one word: "No."
Of the five wounded officers, three are with the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office, one is with the Princeton Police Department and another is with the Elk River Police Department, according to a statement from Heck.
Officers were taken to hospitals in St. Cloud and Robbinsdale.
As is the practice, the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension is among the agencies involved in the investigation.
Emergency dispatch audio disclosed that the suspect had numerous handguns and long guns in his home.
The house sits about a quarter-mile south of Glendorado Town Hall; the township has little else beyond a few houses and a Lutheran church.
A neighbor, Skip Ackerson, said the house was known in Glendorado as a spot for trouble. He heard sirens and a helicopter on Thursday morning and went outside to find the road to the house blocked off.
Holmberg looked like someone you didn't want to mess with, Ackerson said. "It was a house that had trouble in it."
He said he once drove past the house, many years ago, and saw a SWAT team with police dogs taking people into custody. He saw several people lying face down on the front lawn in front of the SWAT officers, he said.
The neighborhood otherwise is a decent place to live, Ackerson said.
Thursday's incident marks the seventh time in the past six months that law enforcement officers have been killed or wounded by gunfire in or near Minnesota.
On Sept. 13 in Algona, Iowa, police officer Kevin Cram was shot to death while trying to arrest Kyle L. Ricke, 43, of Algona over an active warrant for harassment. Ricke was apprehended roughly 110 miles to the north in Sleepy Eye, Minn., about four hours later.
On Aug. 11, a Minneapolis police officer was shot and wounded by automatic gunfire while pursuing a robbery suspect in an unmarked car on the North Side. Four people were arrested that night.
On July 14 in Fargo, officer Jake Wallin, 23, was killed and two fellow officers and a civilian were wounded by gunfire from Mohamad Barakat of Fargo. A fourth officer shot and killed Barakat.
On May 6 in western Wisconsin, St. Croix County sheriff's deputy Kaitie Leising, 29, was shot just outside of Glenwood. Leising was answering a call about a drunken driver stuck in a ditch. The suspect, Jeremiah D. Johnson of Shakopee was found dead nearby with a gun close to his body.
On April 15 in western Minnesota, Pope County sheriff's deputy Joshua Owen was killed on his 44th birthday while responding to a domestic dispute call. Two other officers were wounded. The suspected shooter, Bryan Nygard of Cyrus, Minn., died when officers returned fire.
On April 8 in western Wisconsin, two police officers were shot and killed in Barron County during a traffic stop in Cameron: officers Emily Breidenbach, 32, of the Chetek Police Department, and Hunter Scheel, 23, of the Cameron Police Department. The suspect, Glenn Douglas Perry, 50, of New Auburn, Wis., died in an exchange of gunfire.
The Minnesota Police and Peace Officers Association posted on social media that its "thoughts and prayers are with the responding officers, for answering the call in the face of danger and putting their lives on the line to help victims of crime and to keep the public safe."