‘How the hell did you get the upgrade?’: Pastor allegedly hit his wife on the head during in-flight tantrum over her first-class perk

Background: An Alaska Airlines jet. March 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)/Inset: Roger Allan Holmberg Sr. selfie via Roger Allan Holmberg Fan Club on Facebook.

Background: An Alaska Airlines jet. March 2021. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)/Inset: Roger Allan Holmberg Sr. selfie (Roger Allan Holmberg Fan Club on Facebook).

Roger Allan Holmberg Sr., a 75-year-old pastor from Virginia, is facing a federal simple assault charge after he allegedly struck his wife — who has epilepsy — on the head during a flight to Alaska, an incident that prosecutors say was sparked because he became outraged that her seat was upgraded to first class while his was not.

In an FBI affidavit underpinning the criminal complaint filed on July 3, a special agent said Holmberg was aboard an Alaska Airlines flight departing Seattle, Washington, and destined for Anchorage on July 2 when he allegedly struck his wife on the top of her head. His wife, whose name was not revealed in court records, later told investigators that Holmberg “had previously been abusive” and had broken her finger in September 2023.

Over a series of interviews with witnesses from the plane, including one off-duty police officer, the FBI agent alleges that Holmberg’s wife was repeatedly accosted during the flight and it began when Holmberg first approached her and demanded to know: “How the hell did you get the upgrade?”

“I’m a gold point member,” the pastor’s wife replied. “Don’t speak to me like that.”

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