ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) – As two state troopers struggled to arrest his father, a 19-year-old man armed himself with an assault rifle and shot them seven times, killing them outside his home in a remote Alaska village, authorities said in charges filed Saturday.
Nathaniel Lee Kangas appeared in a Fairbanks court two days after Trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich and 45-year-old Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson were shot to death. He was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and a count of third-degree assault.
The slayings of Rich and Johnson on Thursday in the isolated community of Tanana underscored the challenges law enforcement faces in this huge state. Like many troopers assigned to patrol multiple villages, Rich and Johnson were not based in the interior community of 238 people. They worked out of the troopers’ four-person rural service unit in Fairbanks 130 miles to the east, and they had to reach Tanana by plane.
Rich and Johnson had traveled to Tanana to arrest Kangas’ 58-year-old father, Arvin, on charges of driving without a license and threatening the village’s unarmed public safety officer, Mark Haglin.
Haglin had received reports that the elder Kangas was driving around the village, even though he doesn’t have a valid driver’s license. After Haglin approached Arvin Kangas at his home, the elder Kangas pointed to a rifle and suggested he would use it if Haglin did not leave, according to the charging document.
Haglin then contacted state troopers, who obtained an arrest warrant and accompanied him to Arvin Kangas’ home a day after the confrontation.
Arvin Kangas refused to cooperate with the troopers after being informed of his arrest and tried to run inside his home, according to the charging document. The troopers pursued, and a scuffle ensued, according to the document.
That’s when Nathaniel Kangas appeared with an assault rifle and shot them, according to the charging document. He then pointed the weapon at Haglin, but lowered it and Haglin was able to flee, the document says.
Haglin called for help, and with the aid of other community members, was able to detain Nathaniel Kangas until more troopers arrived, the charging document says.
Both Rich and Johnson had recently appeared on a cable TV reality show about the Alaska State Troopers.
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