Policeman storms forest station, kills two rangers and then ends his life

Alex Lemarkoko

Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko (left), accompanied by other officers, condoles with the widow of one of the Kenya Forest Service officers at Cherang'ani Forest Station on June 03, 2024, 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The Sunday night incident left Kapcherop Centre where the station is located in shock.
  • The police officer shot randomly, before killing two KFS officers and injuring the third.

On Sunday night, Administration Police officer Evans Kimutai arrived at Cherangani Forest Station in Elgeyo Marakwet County where his girlfriend, a forest ranger, worked.

He had covered more than 300km from his work station at Todonyang Police Post in Turkana North sub-County in search of the said girlfriend.

It would later turn out that he was on a tragic mission.

Hours after his arrival, Cherangani Forest Station turned into a crime scene after the officer opened fire on Kenya Forest rangers, killing two and injuring one.

Then he turned the gun on himself to bring to an end his killing spree.

The young officer shot himself in the chin at the doorstep of the forest station manager.

When the gunshots finally went silent, three bullet-riddled bodies lay lifeless. 

A third forest officer, Monica Kilonzi, sustained serious injuries on the upper right-side hand and right chest.

She was rushed to Kapcherop Health Centre before being transferred to Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital (MTRH) in Eldoret for medical attention. The three bodies were also taken to MTRH.

The assailant's girlfriend was not at the station at the time of the incident.

The forest officers who were killed have since been identified as Abdallah Dzabo Kitolle, 22, and Marion Jerono, 20.

Mr Kitolle, who was on duty as the night guard at the station, was killed as he attempted to alert three female officers.

He met his death at the doorstep where the two female officers were having dinner, after celebrating Madaraka Day at Kapsoar Sub County headquarters.

Mr Kitolle’s 21-year-old wife, Fatuma Omar, said her husband was barely worked for two years at the station.

“Abdalla was so caring and loving. He really loved me and our 10-month-old son,” said the young widow.

Alex Lemarkoko

National Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko (center) addresses the media at Cherang'ani Forest Station in Elgeyo Marakwet County on June 03, 2024. 

Photo credit: Jared Nyataya | Nation Media Group

For the station manager, it was a lucky escape, as it appears the officer’s mission was to kill not just his girlfriend, but anyone in sight.

An AK-47 rifle was recovered at the scene of the crime. The assailant had three fully loaded magazines, of which he emptied one. Each magazine had 30 bullets.

 The tragic Sunday night incident left Kapcherop Centre where the station is located in shock, as the forest officers and area residents struggled to come to terms with the tragic incident.

According to Elgeyo Marakwet County Police Commander Peter Mulinge, the heavily armed officer shot randomly, before killing the two KFS officers and injuring the third ranger.

Mr Mulinge said the assailant and his girlfriend had constantly differed. Their differences led the authorities to ban the assailant from the forest station.

According to the county police boss, the assailant's girlfriend was not at the forest station at the time of the incident.

According to officers at the station, the killer policeman claimed that some of his girlfriend's colleagues had been interfering in their relationship.

"We are still in shock following this incident. We call on young people to seek counseling from experts instead of taking matters into their own hands when facing relationship challenges," said area chief Andrew Chemaringo.

William Kimaiyo, an area resident, termed the incident as unfortunate, while calling on the government to ensure those recruited to join disciplined forces are young men and women of integrity.

"This incident has left us with a lot of pain as parents and residents, bearing in mind that the suspected killer was a well-known young man in this area. The government must be thorough in vetting youths joining disciplined forces to avoid such incidents,” said Mr Kimaiyo.

National Chief Conservator of Forests Alex Lemarkoko accompanied by senior KFS officers and a team of security officers from Kapsoar Sub County visited the station on Monday to assess the scene of crime and to condole with the families of the deceased officers.

“I had to fly from Nairobi to come and assess the situation upon learning that two of my officers had been killed by an assailant whom we have learned was a police officer from Turkana North. Unfortunately, we have lost two of our youngest officers,” said the KFS boss.

Mr Lemarkoko said police officers have embarked on investigations that will help KFS establish the root cause of the incident. 

He, however, urged young people with relationship challenges to seek counselling instead of resorting to violence.

“As KFS we have a programme that we use to reach out to our officers. My advice to young people is that whenever they have relationship challenges they should always seek assistance from their seniors and other members of the society for guidance and counseling,” said Mr Lemarkoko.