The man suspected of fatally shooting a State Patrol trooper Thursday morning was a felon who had threatened to kill or harm police if he was arrested, according to the state Department of Corrections.
On the run from his probation officer, Joshua Jearl Blake told his girlfriend last year that he planned to arm himself and kill anyone who tried to arrest him.
Blake was wanted by the state Department of Corrections for violating terms of his 2010 release after spending about 2 ½ years in prison.
However, he didn’t follow through with the threat when he was arrested last April. He later spent 45 days in jail.
Blake, 28, is suspected of killing State Patrol Trooper Tony Radulescu during a traffic stop early Thursday in Gorst, Kitsap County.
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Radulescu, 44, was a 16-year State Patrol veteran and the first trooper killed in the line of duty in 13 years.
Radulescu’s shooting triggered a massive manhunt that ended a few hours later when Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies approached Blake’s rural Port Orchard home and heard a gunshot inside.
Blake died several hours later at Tacoma General Hospital of what the sheriff’s office believes was a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
Investigators linked Blake to Radulescu’s shooting through his pickup, which was abandoned a short distance from where the trooper was killed. They also traced his cellphone, authorities said.
Blake was no stranger to Kitsap County law enforcement. He had spent time in jail and prison.
Blake completed a 2 ½-year prison term in early 2010 for manufacturing methamphetamine, fourth-degree assault and violating a no-contact order, according to Department of Corrections (DOC) spokesman Chad Lewis. His term under community corrections, or probation, ended last August, Lewis said.
“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.”
Radulescu stopped Blake’s pickup at 12:57 a.m. on Highway 16 and radioed the vehicle’s location and license-plate number to dispatchers to have them trace the name of the owner, authorities said. It wasn’t immediately known why Radulescu stopped Blake.
Radulescu never called back, State Patrol Chief John Batiste said.
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 was a military veteran who had moved to the United States from his native Bucharest, Romania, when he was a teen.
He is the 27th trooper to be killed on duty, Batiste said. The most recent 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.
Investigators said three hours after Radulescu was found, officers located Blake’s truck abandoned on a county road near Port Orchard, about two miles from the shooting scene. Deputies soon descended on Blake’s rural Port Orchard neighborhood.
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.
Sean Jeu, Blake’s longtime friend and former neighbor, said Blake was estranged from his mother and brother but was tight with his dad. They were both carpenters, and they worked together at their family business, Blake Enterprises.
He acknowledged Blake had troubles with drug addictions and the law, but Jeu said he was a skilled craftsman and a hard worker.
Jeu said Blake was forced to leave his childhood home when his father’s girlfriend became convinced he had begun to use drugs again. Jeu said he once ordered Blake out of his own home when he arrived carrying a gun and “talking really fast.”
Blake was devastated after the death of his father last year, Jeu said.
“It was huge loss, and he was really hurting,” Jeu said. “I know it doesn’t excuse what he did, but he was really alone, hurting and struggling.”
Blake was convicted of assaulting his then-pregnant girlfriend in 2004 as he drove down a street under the influence of alcohol, according to court records. After being arrested, he kicked out the window of a patrol car, according to court records.
Later that year, after the baby was born, he choked the woman and punched her in the face repeatedly because she asked him to watch the child while she took a nap.
In 2008, a Port Orchard police officer tried to pull him over for a minor traffic infraction. He sped off at 60 mph, crashed into another police car and then ran off. As officers pursued him, he returned to his car and sped away again — only to be caught later when a sheriff’s dog team chased him up a tree.
When Blake was handed over to the Department of Corrections after being convicted in Kitsap County Superior Court in the summer of 2008, he was sent to the Washington State Penitentiary in Walla Walla. While there, he was regularly in trouble, said Lewis, the DOC spokesman.
After serving his entire prison sentence, Blake returned to Kitsap County and began his community-corrections term.
In December 2010, a warrant was issued for Blake’s arrest after he failed to report to the DOC office for a meeting, said Dianne Ashlock, a regional administrator for community corrections.
Community-corrections staff members called Blake about the missed meeting and he said his father was terminally ill and he would handle his post-prison commitments when he was ready, Ashlock added.
On April 26, 2011, DOC officers went to a home in Gorst to look for Blake and were told the man’s girlfriend was there, but she was hiding because she was afraid of Blake.
“She knew the offender was armed and that he had planned to shoot it out with the police or DOC if they came to arrest him,” Ashlock said.
DOC officers and Kitsap County sheriff’s deputies followed Blake the next day, but when they attempted to arrest him he tried to take off, Ashlock said. He was arrested; a DOC spokeswoman did not know if he had been carrying a gun that day. Blake served 45 days in jail, Lewis said.
“He did threaten to kill a law-enforcement officer, which we included in his case file because we take threats like that seriously,” Lewis said. “That’s one reason we closely supervised Blake, because he had a long history of violent behavior.”
Seattle Times staff reporter Sara Jean Green and news researcher Miyoko Wolf contributed to this report, which includes information from The Associated Press.
Jennifer Sullivan: 206-464-8294 or firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter @SeattleSullivan.