Patrick "Scott" Johnson, Gabriel "Gabe" Rich and Nathaniel Lee Kangas
The state troopers were responding to a domestic call with a weapon when they were fatally shot by teenager.
By H. Nelson Goodson
May 4, 2014
Fairbanks, Alaska - On Thursday, both Alaskan State Troopers, Gabriel "Gabe" Rich, 26, and Sergeant Patrick "Scott" Johnson, 45, were fatally shot by Nathaniel Lee Kangas, 19, after responding to a suspect armed and brandishing a weapon call. Kangas was charged with two felony counts of first-degree murder. A judge set a $4M bail for Kangas on Saturday. If convicted, Kangas is facing two life terms.
Kangas is accused of firing at least seven shots from behind striking the troopers as they attempted to take his father, Arvin Morse Kangas, 58, into custody on misdeamenor charges and threatening an officer.
Several days before the fatal shooting, Arvin was driving intoxicated, recklessly and without a license and extended to the next day. Village of Tanana Safety Officer Mark Haglin, who is unarmed later attempted to arrest Arvin at his home, but when Arvin reached for a rifle he left. Haglin called for backup from the Alaskan State Troopers.
Both Johnson and Rich flew to the remote Village of Tanana to provide extra backup for Officer Haglin in an attempt to arrest Arvin at his home. When they reached Arvin's home around 2:45 p.m., the troopers began to struggle with Arvin as he tried to flee. Nathaniel, his son got an assault rifle from inside the home and then shot both Johnson and Rich in the back as they tried to place his father into custody.
Then, Nathaniel pointed the weapon at Haglin, but didn't fire and Haglin fled to get more help. Officer Haglin later arrested Nathaniel with the aid of other villagers. Nathaniel told Haglin that he was sorry about shooting the troopers, according to the criminal complaint.
The bodies of both Rich and Johnson were later recovered.
On Friday, Arvin was also taken into custody around 10:00 p.m. by a SWAT team. He was charged with assault in the fourth-degree and driving with a revoked license steming from the April 30 incident with Officer Haglin.
According to the State of Alaska Department of Public Safety, Sgt. Johnson was born in Fairbanks, but grew up in Tok where he graduated from Tok School in 1987. He was a North Slope Borough Police Officer for three years before joining the Alaska State Trooper ranks in 1993. Afterward, he headed to Fairbanks where he worked his entire 20-year trooper career. During his long esteemed career, 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; and finally rural unit sergeant. He is survived by his wife, three teenage daughters, his parents and siblings.
Trooper Rich was born in Pennsylvania, but moved to Fairbanks shortly after his birth. He graduated from Lathrop High School in 2006. He spent four years working as a patrolman with the North Pole Police Department before deciding to become an Alaska State Trooper in 2011. Trooper Rich worked in Fairbanks patrol for the majority of his 3 ½ years as a trooper, then moved to the Rural Unit the same day as Johnson. He is survived by his fiancé, two sons, and his parents.