• Forecast
  • News Tip
  • Categories
Temperature Precipitation
Estimated read time
4m 41s

Tanana teen arrested in connection with trooper murders

By Hope Miller 10:26 AM May 2, 2014
ANCHORAGE –

A 20-year-old man has been arrested in connection with the killings of two Alaska State Troopers in Tanana, authorities say.

Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson and trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich were fatally shot in the line of duty Thursday while conducting an investigation in the Interior village, troopers say. Both Johnson and Rich were members of the Fairbanks Rural Service Unit.

Johnson and Rich were in Tanana to follow up on a Wednesday night report that resident Arvin Morse Kangas, 58, had brandished a firearm at a village public safety officer, said trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters.

There was a dispute about the sale of a sofa between Arvin Kangas and another resident at a home. VPSO Mark Haglin was called, Arvin Kangas left the home and is believed to have driven an ATV and a station wagon while intoxicated. Haglin confronted Arvin Kangas, telling him to go home and not drive anymore, said Col. James Cockrell at a Friday press conference in Anchorage.

Haglin spotted the same station wagon on the road again and tracked it down at Arvin Kangas’ home. As Haglin drove by, he saw Arvin Kangas point a shotgun at him, according to a criminal complaint filed by Haglin. Haglin called troopers in Fairbanks about the confrontation.

When Johnson and Rich went to arrest Arvin Kangas Thursday afternoon, investigators say it turned into a struggle that spilled inside the house. And that, according to investigators, is when Arvin Kangas’ 20-year-old son, Nathanial Lee Kangas, shot the two troopers to death with a semi-automatic rifle.

In a written statement released Friday morning, Peters said Arvin Kangas and Nathanial Kangas had both been arrested. Nathanial Kangas was arrested for the murder of both Johnson and Rich, Peters said, and AST is currently preparing formal charges against him with the help of the Office of Special Prosecutions and Appeals.

Arvin Kangas is charged with fourth-degree assault and driving with a revoked license.

The Alaska Bureau of Investigation is looking into the circumstances of the deaths, but it’s believed that Nathanial Kangas shot the men at about 3 p.m. Thursday, Cockrell said.

A SWAT team was sent and a home was taped off, said Tanana Traditional Chief Lester Erhart.

“Everything is hush hush, everybody is supposed to be in their homes,” he said Thursday night.

Ruby Cruger, manager of Tanakon Bed and Breakfast in Tanana, said the incident happened near her aunt’s house. She was there to visit, she said, and when she got to her aunt’s yard she saw people running.

The village is shocked and saddened, she said.

“It’s sad, it’s really sad,” Cruger said Thursday evening. “We have an elder that just passed away and her funeral is tomorrow. It’s just sad, all the way around, especially for the troopers. We’re just thinking of their wives, their kids, what they’re going to be going through. Nothing like this ever happened here.”

Nathanial Kangas was taken into custody shortly after the shootings, Cockrell said. Arvin Kangas ran to another residence and surrendered to troopers at about 10:25 p.m. Thursday.

Friday, the bodies of the two slain troopers were recovered from Tanana and taken to the State Medical Examiner’s Office in Anchorage. A small procession accompanied their bodies from the airport to the medical examiner’s office, and law enforcement officers held a 24-hour vigil in their honor, Peters said.

There have been 14 previous line-of-duty deaths between troopers and state Department of Fish and Game personnel, according to the Officer Down Memorial Page. The most recent fatality was a March 2013 aircraft accident involving a state trooper.

Tanana is located west of Fairbanks and has a population of less than 250, according to 2010 census data.

Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson

Johnson, 45, was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Tok. He was a North Slope Borough police officer for three years before joining AST in 1993. He spent his entire 20-year career with troopers in Fairbanks, where he worked as a “patrol trooper; was a field training officer; was a canine officer, instructor and canine unit supervisor; supervisor of the Fairbanks Areawide Narcotics Team; patrol shift supervisor; an assistant team leader for the Northern Special Emergency Reaction Team (SERT); and finally rural unit sergeant,” according to a statement from troopers. Johnson is survived by his wife, daughters (ages 16, 14 and 12), parents and siblings.

Trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich

Rich, 26, was born in Pennsylvania, but moved to Fairbanks not long after he was born. He spent four years as a patrolman with the North Slope Police Department before becoming a trooper in 2011. Rich worked in Fairbanks patrol for most of his three-plus years as a trooper before moving to the rural unit. He is survived by his fiancee, their 1-year-old son and his parents. He was also in the midst of adopting his fiancee’s 8-year-old son, troopers said in a statement.

Memorial funds press release from Alaska State Troopers:

The Alaska Concerns of Police Survivors has established memorial funds at Wells Fargo Bank for Sergeant Scott Johnson and Trooper Gabe Rich. All proceeds from these accounts will go directly to the Families of the fallen.

Sergeant Scott Johnson Memorial Fund: Account Number 6157331387

Trooper Gabe Rich Memorial Fund: Account Number 6157331379

When making donations, please reference the account numbers. It is the easiest way for the bank to locate the correct accounts.

–Kirsten Swann, Lauren Maxwell and Dave Detling contributed reporting.

Editor’s note: Troopers originally reported Nathanial Kangas was 19 years old. According to charging documents, he is 20. The story has been revised.

Latest Stories

  • News

    Trump says transgender soldiers cost too much — is that true?

    by CBS News on Jul 26, 13:56

    In laying out his reasons for moving on Wednesday to ban transgender people from serving in the U.S. military, President Donald Trump cited the “tremendous medical costs” associated with the policy. His claim raises several immediate questions, such as exactly how much the Department of Defense spends on providing health care for transgender service members, as well […]

  • News

    Alaska residents angered by chip seal on Mitkof Island roads

    by Associated Press on Jul 26, 13:44

    PETERSBURG, Alaska (AP) – Alaska residents driving on Mitkof Island are concerned that the chip seal the state is using to fix the island’s roads is doing more harm than good. KFSK-FM reported Tuesday that residents have experienced cracked windshields and chipped paint since the seal was laid down. Alaska Department of Transportation spokeswoman Aurah […]

  • Southcentral Alaska weekend events

    by KTVA Web Staff on Jul 26, 13:09

    West End Block Party When: July 27, 4:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Location: Snow City Cafe Price: Free admission Family-friendly Free parking at the Hotel Captain Cook garage Alaska Vintage Snowmobile Show When: July 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Location: Museum of Alaska Transportation and Industry, Wasilla 3800 West Museum Drive Funny River 5K […]

  • Murkowski, other GOP Senate defections sink Obamacare partial repeal

    by CBS News on Jul 26, 12:54

    A proposal that would partially repeal Obamacare fell short of the 51 votes needed to pass it Wednesday afternoon, dealing yet another blow to the GOP effort to roll back the 2010 health care law. The Senate rejected the plan in a 45-55 vote. All Democrats voted against it, along with seven Republicans. They are: Sen. […]

  • News

    Trump calls out Murkowski over health care vote

    by CNN on Jul 26, 12:04

    (CNN) President Donald Trump criticized Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Twitter Wednesday after she voted against GOP-led efforts to dismantle Obamacare, making her the latest Republican to be publicly rebuked by Trump on the issue. “Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad,” he tweeted. Senator […]

  • DayBreak

    Workforce Wednesday: Police and fire at Ted Stevens Anchorage International Airport

    by Daybreak Staff on Jul 26, 11:45

    Careers in Airport Police and Fire at Ted Stevens International Airport include rigorous training, multiple career paths and great pay. Not only that, but there are several requirements that need to be met for consideration. Among some of those are having a relatively clean driving record, passing a drug screening, psychological evaluation and more. Applicants […]

  • News

    Man’s best friend: training the next generation of service dogs

    by Bonney Bowman on Jul 26, 11:05

    Life-saving service dogs are learning their skills right here in Alaska, like Thorr, the mobility service dog who went to get help when his owner, Eric Skousen, suffered a massive seizure. Now Thorr’s trainer is working with the next generation. Yellow Labrador puppy Lakota is just 14 weeks old. He’s still all bounce, floppy ears […]

  • Coast Guard lacks funds to chase drugs, maintain fleet, commandant says

    by CBS News on Jul 26, 9:25

    CHESAPEAKE BAY, Md. —  Congress got an SOS Tuesday from Adm. Paul Zukunft, the commandant of the U.S. Coast Guard. He said the Coast Guard is busier than ever chasing drug runners, but that it can’t do the job without more money. CBS News was aboard the Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf in 2015 after it seized tons […]