20-year-old Tanana resident, the accused killer of two Alaska State Troopers, Nathanial Kangas was arraigned in Fairbanks on Saturday afternoon. He was arraigned in a courtroom filled with law enforcement.
At arraignment, N. Kangas pled “Not Guilty,” to two counts of Murder I, and one count of Assault III. He was appointed a Public Defender, and his bail was set at $4 million.
His father, 58-year-old Arvin Kangas, with whom this whole incident in Tanana got its start, was arraigned the day before on charges of Assault IV and Driving without a Valid License.
It was also on Saturday that the bodies of the two slain troopers were returned to Fairbanks in a procession of hundreds of police an fire vehicles as well as other cars. Several thousand people lined the streets as the procession made its way along Airport Way and University Avenue to the Fairbanks Funeral Home.
It was on Wednesday April 30th, according to reports, that Tanana’s VPSO, Mark Haglin, was called to a woman’s residence for a dispute over a couch that A. Kangas had sold to the woman’s sister previously. Apparently, the woman’s sister had failed to pay for the couch and A. Kangas was threatening to remove the couch from the home before leaving on his ATV.
A. Kangas was stopped by Haglin, who said that he had observed that Kangas displayed bloodshot eyes and may have been drinking. Haglin told Kangas to go home, but would see him driving around again later. It was when Kangas threatened the VPSO with a weapon that he had at his side, while on his porch, that Haglin decided to call the incident in to the trooper station in Fairbanks.
Sgt. Patrick “Scott” Johnson, and Trooper Gabriel “Gabe” Rich responded to Tanana on Thursday to arrest Arvin Kangas on charges of Assault and Driving without a Valid license. The two went to A. Kangas’s cabin to contact him. A. Kangas was outside his cabin with his son Nathaniel when troopers arrived. Nathaniel moved inside and troopers attempted to arrest the elder Kanagas, a struggle broke out and the trio went through the doorway of the home. A. Kangas attempted to flee the premises when N. Kangas re-emerged from the cabin with a semi-automatic rifle and while the troopers had their backs to N. Kangas, he opened fire, firing as many as seven rounds, shooting the troopers in the back.
VPSO Haglin, who was on the scene through the entire incident, said that after shooting the troopers, Kangas leveled the firearm at him, but would later lower it and allow Haglin to escape. It was Haglin, along with community members, who eventually took N. Kangas into custody.
Arvin Kangas would flee and not be apprehended for several hours. He would later give himself up after a stand-off with a team of troopers clan in SWAT gear at 10:30 pm on Thursday night.
45-year-old Sgt Scott Johnson leaves behind a wife and three daughters. Johnson, who was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Tok, where he graduated from high school in 1987. He began his enforcement career working as a North Slope Borough police officer before joining the Alaska state Troopers. He would spend his entire 20-year career in Fairbanks.
Trooper Gabe Rich leaves behind a fiancee and their one-year-old son. Rich was in the process of adopting his fiancee’s eight-year-old son. Rich was born in Pennsylvania, but his family moved to Fairbanks soon after. Rich graduated from Fairbanks’ Lathrop High in 2006 before entering into law enforcement. He worked as a patrolman with the North Pole Police Department before becoming a State Trooper in 2011.