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Man arrested in deaths of Alaska State Troopers

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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pgrywlf May 03 2014 at 9:39 AM

God Speed to these true hero's so sorry they had to go so soon. They are angels now and earned their wings the hard way> RIP

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Jim May 03 2014 at 9:10 AM

Let's not criticize the writer of the article. Instead, let us send condolences to the families of these brave men.

End of Watch: May 1, 2014

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2 replies
KEN Jim May 03 2014 at 9:15 AM


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Ralph Schwartz Jim May 03 2014 at 9:39 AM

Another inaccurate politically correct article. The most important fact here is that the perpetrators are
Indians and this was a RACIALLY MOTIVATED KILLING of white officers. Yet what do you think the odds are that the killer will have the hate crime statute applied to him? About zero. Yet if the killer was white, they would already be announcing a federal prosecution.

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3 replies
deano41369 May 03 2014 at 9:08 AM

Not even worth locking him up. Feed him to da bears up there!

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1 reply
jmarkov320 deano41369 May 03 2014 at 9:52 AM

why get the bears sick let them drown

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1 reply
Jim jmarkov320 May 03 2014 at 10:04 AM

LOL make the bears sick LOL

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ramonathenanny May 03 2014 at 9:05 AM

My prayers go out to the families and the friends of the troopers. A very sad day for all. Also it's very sad that some people are more upset with the spelling then the deaths of these two fallen heros.

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1 reply
rdh32khlll ramonathenanny May 03 2014 at 9:14 AM

What made them heroes?

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4 replies
chata1507 May 03 2014 at 9:05 AM

Rest in peace good and faithful servants. My heart goes out to the family, community and fellow officers,

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friskejulie82 May 03 2014 at 9:03 AM

THis upsets me greatly. Where in the world can you go that is save anymore.
RIP solders, Be at peace It is horrible for the familys and for all the people that Loved and Respected them. My Prayers are with you all!

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3 replies
Hey Girl! May 03 2014 at 8:58 AM

Absolutely horrible. I thought I recognized the names. I have watched them on the show several times. May they rest in peace. My heart goes out to their families and the other troopers. Very sad day for all.

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David May 03 2014 at 8:56 AM

I believe the TV show may build a sense of confidence that these men normally wouldn't have, they let their guard down at the worst possible time; what a shame.

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1 reply
Jim David May 03 2014 at 9:16 AM

Perhaps, but I would think working in a place such as Alaska would keep alert levels high. The problem is that the violent criminal element is getting bolder and bolder. Thank God the Jacksonville, Florida "no snitching" rule doesn't apply in Alaska!

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ernie May 03 2014 at 8:56 AM

i would like to see total body armor and more caution

Flag Reply +2 rate up
BRO May 03 2014 at 9:13 AM

I'll pray for the troopers and their families & friends Brave protectors God Bless them

Flag Reply +3 rate up
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