Killing Death- Homicide

Graphic by author

Graphic by author

A recent homicide shook Alaskans and the rest of the country. On May first, two state troopers, dispatched from Fairbanks, were shot and killed in the tiny village of Tanana. The story made headlines everywhere, the two had been featured on the reality TV show Alaska State Troopers, so you might already know about it.

What motivated the murders is harder to figure out. Involved were father, Arvin Kangas, and son, Nathaniel Kangas. Troopers were going to arrest Arivn on charges of  fourth-degree assault and driving without a valid license. Once they were in his house, Nathaniel shot the two troopers with a semiautomatic rifle. When talking about the possibility of immortality, what would it take to remove homicide as a manner of death on Alaska’s, and the rest of the world’s, death certificates? Some ideas follow:

  • Nathaniel Kangas was thought to have sympathy with a small minority of  Native Alaskans who would like to take back some of their ancestral lands that have been given to the state. Groups like this tend to have no respect for state and federal law and it’s enforcers (look up militia leader Shaeffer Cox of Fairbanks, my hometown, and his alleged plan to kill state troopers). Nathaniel was said to have been in police custody 15 minutes after the shooting, but it’s unclear who arrested him. There was no evidence the troopers had even been able to return fire. Was he idealist enough turn himself in? Did he make his point about disregard for law and then give up? People living in the village with Nathaniel felt he might have symptoms of mental illness. Was the combination of extremism and un-diagnosed mental problems enough to push him into violent action?  If we are to eliminate homicide we’d have to convince everyone, mentally ill or not, that there are no causes worth killing for, is it possible?


  • Homicide by legal definition, at it’s simplest,  is “killing of one human being by another human being. It can be considered manslaughter (unintentional killing resulting from criminal negligence or reckless disregard for human life, Murder ( first degree involves premeditated criminal intent to kill. Second degree does not), and justifiable or excusable homicide (killling in a war or being ordered to execute someone accused of a crime). Can we rid the world of war or unmeditated acts? Will the death penalty ever be discontinued? Will war ever stop being an option?


  • The following is a map of the world’s intentional homicide rates based on a study by United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime. The darkest areas have higher murder rates. What do those countries have in common? Political instability? Poverty? Or is each country different? Keep in mind that some countries might under report homicide or have a different definition of homicide, but there is a pattern. If we could decipher what the map means, could we turn every country light blue, or even…white, representing no homicide?
  • Murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants 2011. Study by UNODC. wikimediacommons

    Murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants 2011. Study by UNODC. wikimediacommons


Murder rate per 100,000 inhabitants most recent year.
   0-1 lightest
   > 20 Darkest
Date 2012
Source Homicide Statistics 2012. UNODC.
Author me

To return to where I started, the “reality TV” show episodes featuring the two murdered state troopers, Sgt Patrick “Scott” Johnson and Gabe Rich, have been pulled and edited. The men will not appear this season. There won’t be any reminder of Alaska’s loss and outrage over it, beyond a few days of news coverage.


From Alaska Dispatch:

From the web:

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s