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Man arrested in deaths of Alaska State Troopers



By RACHEL D'ORO
Associated Press

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.

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edsredkoala May 02 2014 at 6:55 PM

deepest sympathy to the family and friends of the troopers.. may they rest in peace.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Gary May 02 2014 at 7:54 PM

Eye for an Eye, why waste time with someone that kill's for no reason other than he or she was pissed-off about something. Amen

Flag Reply +5 rate up
Jeremy May 02 2014 at 7:49 PM

R.I.P To my brothers in blue.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
iluvfreespeech May 02 2014 at 7:20 PM

why didn't they shoot him on the spot

Flag Reply +1 rate up
1 reply
rreaction iluvfreespeech May 02 2014 at 8:39 PM

what spot?

Flag Reply 0 rate up
ttths54 May 02 2014 at 7:18 PM

MAY THEY REST IN PEACE AND MAY JUSTICE BE SERVED TO THESE LOWLIFES

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Ken Pullen May 02 2014 at 7:10 PM

Having served in law inforcement in a rural county, some years back, I know how dangerious it is. I am very saddened by the loss of these two Officers. Not many people know how dangerous it really is. May they rest in peace and Justice be served. The sooner the better.

Flag Reply +14 rate up
HI Gerbear May 02 2014 at 8:27 PM

THE KILLER WAS PROBABLY A YOUNG REBUBLICAN

Flag Reply +1 rate up
6 replies
tfjcrock May 02 2014 at 7:04 PM

I love the show. These guys are usually alone, hundreds of miles away from backup, and take their lives in the hands every time they go out. My sympathy to the families.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Madeline May 02 2014 at 6:59 PM

Terrible, terrible, terrible ! The troopers in Alaska are such a really brave group of people. They should take that 19 year old out and let the polar bears have a go at him. Of course they cannot. So inmstead they should take him and let the law take care of the situation. If Alaska has the death penalty may be they can lay him out on a table and pour the wrong chemicals in his veins and make him suffer a whole lot

My sorrow to the troopers familys, and may they rest in peace !.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
1 reply
timjofred Madeline May 02 2014 at 7:11 PM

They are all brave. It doesn't matter which state they are from.

Flag Reply +7 rate up
HP2476and Karin May 02 2014 at 8:19 PM

To my fallen brothers>You will never be forgotten so take your seats in heaven among the many others who sit with god

Flag Reply +5 rate up
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