UPDATED: National Geographic Channel is working on an add to Thursday’s episode of Alaska State Troopers to pay tribute to the two troopers killed this week in a confrontation in a remote Alaska village. Sgt. Patrick Johnson and Trooper Gabriel Rich, who have been featured in the show in the past, were not with a film crew when they were killed, a network rep said. The two men, who were among an ensemble of troopers who participated in the series, had not been scheduled to appear in future episodes. Alaska State Troopers had returned to the network on April 10 for its sixth season. A NatGeo rep says the network is going through its schedule of franchise repeats to pull episodes that featured the two men, out of respect for their families.
“National Geographic Channel is incredibly saddened to learn of the loss of two Alaska State Troopers yesterday in the village of Tanana, Alaska,” the channel said in a statement. “We have a long and proud association with the troopers, and consider them a member of our extended channel family. We send our deepest condolences to their families and the entire Alaska State Trooper force”.
Rich appeared in six episodes of the reality series, in 2012 and 2013; Johnson appeared in four episodes from 2011 to 2013, according to press reports of the shooting deaths that occurred Thursday in Tanana, located 130 miles west of Fairbanks and 281 miles north of Anchorage.
Fairbanks NBC affiliate KTVF reported that the officers had gone to the village to follow up on a report from the previous night of someone brandishing a gun. The Alaska Dispatch’s website reported they were shot after an unarmed village public-safety officer called for backup while dealing with an altercation involving the sale of a couch. The shooting of the two men led to a lengthy standoff with heavily armed officers.
This is not the first time someone featured in the show has been killed; in March of 2013, a trooper who had been featured on the show in the past died in a helicopter crash during a search and rescue. In that instance as well, the show was not filming at the time.