Story by the Associated Press; curated by Dave Urbanski
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Authorities say a 19-year-old man shot and killed two Alaska state troopers from behind with an assault rifle as they struggled to arrest his father.
Prosecutors in Alaska charged Nathanial Lee Kangas of the remote village of Tanana with two counts of first-degree murder on Saturday for the deaths of 26-year-old Trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich and 45-year-old Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson.
Rich and Johnson, who were not based in the interior community of 238 people, had traveled to Tanana to arrest Kangas’ father, Arvin, on charges of driving without a license and threatening the village’s unarmed public safety officer.
Authorities say the troopers were talking to Arvin Kangas outside his home when he tried to escape inside. The troopers pursued, and a scuffle ensued. Authorities say that as the men were struggling, Nathanial Kangas shot the troopers.
“We eventually knew it was going to come down to this,” Ruth Cruger, manager of the Tanana Commercial Store, told KTUU-TV in Anchorage. “It was a matter of time, a ticking bomb ready to go off.”
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Cynthia Erickson is a longtime Tanana resident and a youth advocate who leads an effort to engage kids and help them end up happy and productive, avoiding struggles with substance abuse, sexual assault and suicidal thoughts. Erickson knows all the people involved in the incident.
“I talked to Scott Johnson probably 10 times this winter,” she said. “We set up a gathering with FBI, (U.S.) Marshals and troopers. They came out to Tanana and played basketball, they encouraged kids to get an education, to work.
“We were going in a positive direction. Two steps forward, and now we’re back.”
Erickson said the Kangases were part of a small local group that vehemently opposes government and outside influence.
“Arvin and this group of guys are kind of a little radical, anti-government and that kind of stuff,” Erickson told KTUU. “Whatever it is, it’s unfortunate.”
Cruger, the Tanana Commercial Store manager, said Nathaniel Kangas was “brainwashed.”
“There’s this Athabascan Nation Group, this radical group, so the son had to listen to this day in and day out,” Cruger told KTUU.