Man arrested in deaths of Alaska State Troopers

  • By Rachel D'oro
  • Friday, May 2, 2014 2:19pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A 19-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the shooting deaths of two troopers in a remote village, the Alaska State Troopers said Friday.

Nathaniel Lee Kangas is under arrest in the murders of Trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich and Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson Thursday in the isolated community of Tanana. Troopers said formal charges against the Tanana man were being prepared by troopers with the state Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals.

A second Tanana man, Arvin Kangas, 58, is charged with assault in connection with a Wednesday incident involving a village public safety officer. Tanana resident Ruby Cruger said she is related to the men, and that the elder Kangas is the father of the teenager.

Cruger said she did not know the details of the shooting, just that it has affected the entire community of 238 people. The town is shocked by the shooting, she said Friday.

Troopers also have released little information.

The two troopers were occasionally featured on the National Geographic Channel show “Alaska State Troopers,” which features multiple troopers patrolling the state’s wild terrain. The troopers were not filming at the time of their deaths. Filming in the fifth season is currently being done with other troopers.

National Geographic said in a statement that it was “incredibly saddened” to learn of the deaths. Spokesman Chris Alpert said the troopers are among the many who are subjected to the daily dangers and vulnerabilities of working in isolated areas of the state, such as Tanana, which is about 130 miles west of Fairbanks.

The show has aired so long because of “the incredible heroism they face each day,” Albert said.

No roads lead to Tanana, and travel there is mainly by aircraft. Residents lead a largely subsistence lifestyle.

The troopers had gone to Tanana to follow up on a report Wednesday night that someone “had brandished a firearm in the village,” troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters said. Rich and Johnson worked out of the troopers’ Fairbanks rural service unit.

Cruger said the shooting happened about 3 p.m. Thursday at her aunt’s home on Tanana’s Front Street. She said her aunt wasn’t home at the time.

Because of the location of the village, about two miles west of the junction of the Tanana and Yukon rivers, the community was a trading post for Koyukon and Tanana Athabascans long before European contact, according to a state website. Residents continue to live a traditional Athabascan lifestyle, including hunting and fishing for their food.

The deaths came the same day the name of Manokotak village public safety Officer Thomas Madole was added to the Indian Country Law Enforcement Officers Memorial in Artesia, New Mexico. Madole was shot and killed March 19, 2013, while responding to a domestic violence call in the Alaska Native village.

Before Thursday, 64 law enforcement officers had been killed in the line of duty since 1897 in Alaska, according to information previously provided by the Alaska State Troopers.

More in News

The Boney Courthouse in downtown Anchorage, across the street from the larger Nesbett Courthouse, holds the Alaska Supreme Court chambers. (Photo by Yereth Rosen/Alaska Beacon)
Alaska redistricting board picks new Senate map after Supreme Court finds a gerrymander

The board could continue work and possibly write a different map for the elections from 2024 onward

A landslide blocks Lowell Point Road in Seward, Alaska, on Sunday, May 8, 2022. (Photo courtesy City of Seward)
Lowell Point Road to reopen Friday

Intermittent blasting work will continue next week

Members of the Kenai City Council participate in a council meeting on Wednesday, March 16, 2022 in Kenai, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Boys and girls clubs land donation postponed

The issue will be back before the body on June 1

Vehicles are unleaded at the Seward Harbor after being moved from Lowell Point on Sunday, May 22, 2022 in Seward, Alaska. (Photo courtesy Kenai Peninsula Borough Office of Emergency Management)
Lowell Point barge services move 110-plus cars to Seward

The services were covered by the Kenai Peninsula Borough and ended Monday

Anglers fish on the Kenai River on Tuesday, June 29, 2021 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O'Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Watershed Forum receives matching grant from Conoco

The Kenai Watershed Forum was given a grant from ConocoPhillips to fund… Continue reading

A beach on the eastern side of Cook Inlet is photographed at Clam Gulch, Alaska, in June 2019. The Alaska Board of Fisheries is implementing new shellfish regulations in Cook Inlet. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Fish and Game closes East Cook Inlet razor clam fisheries

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has closed the Cook Inlet… Continue reading

Anastasia Scollon (left) and Willow King (right) stand in The Goods + Sustainable Grocery and Where it’s At mindful food and drink on Monday, May 16, 2022 in Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Sustainable shopping finds new home in Soldotna

The Collective used to operate out of Cook Inletkeeper’s Community Action Studio

The Alaska State Capitol is seen on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. (Peter Segall / Juneau Empire)
Legislature modernizes 40-year-old definition of consent in sexual assault cases

‘Alaska took a gargantuan step forward in updating our laws,’ says deputy attorney general

Project stakeholders cut a ribbon at the Nikiski Shelter of Hope on Friday, May 20, 2022, in Nikiski, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Stakeholders celebrate opening of Nikiski shelter

The shelter officially opened last December

Most Read