May 1 marked the second anniversary of the deaths of Alaska State Troopers Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson and Gabe Rich, who were shot in Tanana while responding to a call from the local village public safety officer. The man accused of killing them, 22-year-old Nathanial Kangas, is scheduled to begin trial on May 2 in Fairbanks.


Troopers Johnson and Rich were in Tanana to follow up on an incident the night before involving Kangas, his father, Arvin Kangas, and VPSO Mark Haglin. Haglin had confronted the elder Kangas twice about driving intoxicated, and during the second meeting, Arvin Kangas pointed a shotgun at him.


When Rich and Johnson arrived at the Kangas home, Arvin Kangas resisted arrest and a struggled ensued, eventually resulting in all four men being inside the home. At some point, court documents claim Nathanial Kangas shot both troopers in the back at close range with a semi-automatic rifle, killing them.


After shooting them, prosecutors claimed both men moved the troopers’ bodies and unholstered their weapons, actions that lead to tampering with evidence and hindering prosecution charges.


A SWAT team was called to secure the scene and arrest the two men. Nathanial Kangas was arrested at his home without incident. Arvin Kangas fled to another home but later surrendered and was taken into custody.


Arvin Kangas was convicted on multiple counts of evidence tampering and hindering prosecution in April 2015. He was sentenced to serve eight years for his part in Rich and Johnson’s deaths.


The elder Kangas admitted to authorities his son killed the troopers, but claimed he did it to protect him.


Nathanial Kangas was initially scheduled to face trial in Nenana in July 2014, but his trial rescheduled multiple times and later moved to Fairbanks.


According to AST spokesman Tim Despain, a formal memorial service for Rich and Johnson was not held on Sunday, but both men will be honored at the Police Memorial Services on Friday, May 6, at 3 p.m. at the Alaska State Crime Lab in Anchorage. He said the event is open to the public.


Courtesy Alaska State Troopers

Courtesy Alaska State Troopers


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