Trooper Shot During Traffic Stop Identified; Suspect Dead
44-year old Tony Radulescu
Photo of the suspect
PORT ORCHARD, Wash. (AP) - A suspect in the shooting death of a Washington state trooper has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday afternoon that the man had passed away after being taken to Tacoma General Hospital.
The suspect was 28-year-old Joshua Jearl Blake, an ex-con with a history of drugs, assaulting the mother of one of his children, and kicking out the window of a police car. Blake was the registered owner of a pickup truck that Trooper Tony Radulescu pulled over just before he was shot to death early Thursday. Investigators tracked Blake to a home near Port Orchard where he shot himself as a SWAT team closed in.
The man suspected of fatally shooting a State Patrol trooper early Thursday morning is a felon who had threatened to kill or harm police if he was arrested again, according to the state Department of Corrections.
Joshua J. Blake, 28, apparently shot himself as Kitsap County sheriff's deputies were coming to arrest him in connection with the fatal shooting of Trooper Tony Radulescu. Blake has been hospitalized at Tacoma General Hospital.
Blake, 28, had spent time in prison for manufacturing methamphetamine, fourth-degree assault and violation of a no-contact order, according to Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman Chad Lewis.
Blake had been on DOC supervision until last August, said Lewis.
"He was a very difficult offender to supervise," Lewis said. "Always not compliant. Young, high-risk and with violent tendencies. That's why the community corrections officers were on him constantly."
Blake had served a portion of his prison time at the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. While there, he was regularly in trouble and even spent time living in the maximum security intensive management unit.
After his release, Blake was equally troublesome, Lewis said. He regularly violated terms of his release and even served time in jail time as a result, Lewis said.
Last year, a friend of Blake's contacted DOC to say that he had made threats to harm or kill police if he was ever arrested again.
"He did threaten to kill some type of law enforcement officer," Lewis said. "That's something we do take seriously and we document it in his field file. That happens with a significant number of offenders we supervise."
A Kitsap County sheriff's SWAT team went to Blake's home early Thursday morning because he is the registered owner of a pickup connected with the trooper's slaying, according to a sheriff's department spokesman. As they approached the home around 10 a.m. the officers heard a single gunshot.
Deputies had tracked Blake to the home through his cellphone, sources said.
One law enforcement source initially said Blake was dead. However, Kitsap County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ken Dickinson said that the suspect has been taken to Tacoma General Hospital.
His condition was not immediately known.
Radulescu had stopped Blake's pickup at 12:57 a.m. on Highway 16 near Gorst and radioed the vehicle's location and license plate number in to radio dispatchers to have them trace the name of the owner. Radulescu never called back, State Patrol Chief John Batiste said during a news conference Thursday morning.
A Kitsap County sheriff's deputy went to the scene and found the wounded trooper. He was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center, in Tacoma, and pronounced dead.
Radulescu, 44, was assigned to the State Patrol office in Bremerton. He was a 16-year veteran, according to the State Patrol.
"It's a very sad day for the Washington State Patrol," said Batiste. "He was a father and peer to many of us who was dearly loved. He served this country in the military and was with this organization for about 16 years."
Batiste said that he has spoken with Radulescu's son.
Batiste said that Radulescu "had a great personality, a real sense of humor" and was highly sought after to speak at local schools in the community. He said that the man's son is in the military.
"We're all hurting, I'm hurting," Batiste said.
Friends said Radulescu was born in Bucharest, Romania, and moved to the U.S. when he was 14. He was fluent in Korean, Italian, Spanish, English and Romanian.
Blake, the pickup owner, has a criminal history that includes a guilty plea in 2008 to eluding police. He was also convicted in 2005 of first-degree malicious mischief and violation of a domestic-violence no-contact order.
A relative of Blake's was emotional when reached by telephone Thursday morning.
"We're really sorry for the officer and the family," said the woman, who declined to give her name. She also declined to discuss Blake.
Investigators said that three hours after Radulescu was found, officers located the suspect's truck abandoned on a county road near Port Orchard, about two miles from the shooting scene.
Troopers, deputies and other officers searched the area for the driver using dogs and checking residences, Winger said. Residents were urged to stay inside and call 911 if they saw anything suspicious. Dogs did not pick up a track, Winger said.
The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office is heading the investigation, Batiste said. FBI agents, U.S. Marshals and officers with the Department of Corrections are also involved in the manhunt.
Dozens of patrol cars with lights flashing escorted an aid car carrying the trooper's body about 6:30 a.m. Thursday from the hospital to the Pierce County medical examiner's office.
Theresa Meyers, who lives next to Blake, said that the rural property has long been known by neighbors as a place to avoid.
"They have a locked gate with the 'keep out' sign. They have a dogs and you hear rifles being fired," Meyers said. "When we first moved in there were people who would come in all day and night to that property, but then there was a drug bust at that property and it slowed down for a while."
Blake, a carpenter by trade, had been doing well and working with his father in the family business called Blake Enterprise, until his father died last year, said Sean Jeu, who lives next door to Blake.
This morning's slaying marks the 27th time a State Patrol trooper has been killed on duty, Batiste said. The last trooper slain was James Saunders, 31, who was shot in 1999 during a traffic stop in Pasco. Nicolas S. Vasquez pleaded guilty to aggravated murder and was sentenced to life in prison without parole.
Gov. Gregoire's statement on fallen trooper
OLYMPIA – Gov. Chris Gregoire today issued the following statement on the loss of Trooper Tony Radulescu, who was killed in the line of duty this morning during a traffic stop in Kitsap County:
"My heart is heavy this morning as we mourn the loss of Trooper Tony Radulescu. Trooper Radulescu was a humble public servant who spent his entire career, including 16 years with the Washington State Patrol, risking his life to defend ours. Washington state lost a true hero this morning. Mike and I extend our thoughts and prayers to Trooper Radulescu's family, his friends, and of course his colleagues with the WSP. There is nothing more difficult than losing someone who puts their life on the line to protect the lives of others.
"Today's tragedy is yet more proof that there is no such thing as a routine traffic stop. Our law enforcement officers selflessly serve our communities to ensure our safety and for that, we should all be eternally grateful."
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