Not a Trick nor a Treat: Revere Fire Captain Arrested Following Incident on Friday

Fire Capt. Carl Holmberg being sworn in to his captain’s position in 2011. He is accused of attacking three teens on Halloween with a golf club.

Fire Capt. Carl Holmberg being sworn in to his captain’s position in 2011. He is accused of attacking three teens on Halloween with a golf club.

A Revere fire captain has been arrested and charged with an alleged brutal attack on three teens during Halloween night on Dale Street, and at the same time, Revere Police now are investigating what they think might be a retaliatory house shooting later on that same night that was meant to send a message to the captain.

Revere Fire Capt. Carl Holmberg, 44, was arrested by Revere Police on Friday night, Oct. 31, and charged with four felonies related to the alleged attack with a golf club on an 11-year-old boy and his two 14-year-old friends – an attack that police partially witnessed and for which Holmberg said was absolutely a case of self-defense.

At the same time, Revere Police said they are looking into a house shooting that happened in the early morning hours on Nov. 1 at a house very close to where Holmberg lives on Dale Street. It could be, police said, that the shooting was in retaliation for the attack on the teens, but that the shooter chose the wrong house.

“We think the shooting is probably connected [to the earlier incident], but we can’t prove that,” said Lt. Amy O’Hara on Monday night. “We think there’s a connection, but nothing is concrete. Obviously, we’ve put cruisers in the area keeping an eye out for any further activity.”

Mayor Dan Rizzo and Fire Chief Gene Doherty have placed Holmberg on suspension with pay. A hearing will be sought with Mayor Rizzo within the week about his potential return to work.

Most likely, any termination procedures would not be sought unless until there is a conviction on the four felony charges.

“Captain Holmberg’s charges are serious,” said Mayor Rizzo on Monday. “Obviously the City is very concerned and disappointed about the facts surrounding the incident, and we will take appropriate disciplinary action as details become clearer.”

Doherty said Holmberg was suspended for the maximum amount allowed, five days, and that a disciplinary hearing should take place this week.
“Obviously, they are extremely serious charges,” he said. “I’ve discussed it with the mayor and Police Chief Cafarelli. Capt. Holmberg was put on suspension with pay prior to his arraignment, which was Monday. We’ll have the Civil Service hearing with the mayor. We’ll talk about what occurred, whether it rises to conduct unbecoming a fire officer. The fact the charges are all felonies will bring it to another level.”

He also said that until or unless there is a conviction, they will perhaps have to find a way for him to return to some sort of work duty.

“We will weigh out whether he can come back to work, likely with something that has no contact with the public,” he said.

The facts of the case were laid out in Chelsea District Court on Monday during the arraignment.

According to the prosecutors, the three boys were trick-or-treating Friday night around 7:45 p.m. on Vane Street. The boys told police that someone had been chasing them and Holmberg yelled at them for cutting through yards. They told police they ran away from him to find the adult who was accompanying them. Instead, they said, they were again confronted by Holmberg, who allegedly began attacking them with a golf club.

The 11-year-old told police that he had been struck in the back of the head with the golf club while trying to run away. A 14-year-old told police that Holmberg hit him with the club in the arm and leg.

When police arrived, they found Holmberg on top of another 14-year-old restraining him with the golf club. Officers disarmed Holmberg and pulled him off the teen – noting that they detected an odor of alcohol coming from Holmberg’s breath.

The 14-year-old told police that he had been attacked with the golf club, and Holmberg had thrown him to the ground just before officers arrived. That teen complained of light-headedness and difficulty breathing at the scene, and along with the 11-year-old, was transported to the Whidden Hospital for observation.

Meanwhile, Holmberg told police that he was trick-or-treating in the neighborhood with his wife and two children when he saw the teens causing a disturbance – allegedly hitting signs and disturbing cars. He allegedly confronted them about their behavior and they became aggressive and he became afraid for his and his family’s safety. He told officers he never struck anyone with the golf club and was carrying it out of routine because there are so many Pit Bulls in the neighborhood. He did say he struggled with one of the youths who approached him in a hostile manner.

“Our side of the story is that anything that happened, happened in the protection of Mr. Holmberg’s 6-year-old son and his wife and himself,” he said. “It was an unfortunate situation that was not of his doing. I hope he’ll get as much publicity when he is vindicated and found not responsible as he’s getting now that charges have been brought against him.”

Because the teens are African-American, some members of the victims’ families have suggested to the Boston media that there might be racial undertones at play in the situation.

Nothing in the police or prosecutor accounts suggests that race had anything to do with the alleged attack, however.

Holmberg will return to court on Nov. 20.

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