Wash. trooper killed at traffic stop; suspect dies

By Gene Johnson

Associated Press

Published: Friday, Feb. 24 2012 3:52 a.m. MST

Washington Sate Patrol investigators gather evidence at the scene of a shooting on Highway 16 in Gorst near Bremerton, Wash. where a Washington state trooper was shot and killed on Thursday, Feb. 23, 2012. The trooper, a 16-year veteran of the Washington State Patrol, had stopped a pickup truck around 1 a.m. on Highway 16 about 20 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound. He radioed the location and license plate number, said Trooper Russ Winger.

Kitsap Sun, Larry Steagall, Associated Press

PORT ORCHARD, Wash. — A Romanian immigrant, Tony Radulescu spent 16 years as a Washington State Patrol trooper, developing the respect of his peers and becoming well-known and popular in his community.

The 44-year-old trooper's career was cut short early Thursday when he was gunned down at a traffic stop in Kitsap County.

"It's a terrible thing to receive a phone call that one of your people is injured in line of duty. To have that compounded with a loss, it's a bad day," Patrol Chief John R. Batiste said.

The chief has been consoling family and members of agency.

"They're all hurting. I'm hurting," Batiste said.

Later Thursday, the suspect — an ex-con with a history of antagonizing police — killed himself as a tactical team closed in on the home where he was hiding, authorities said.

The 28-year-old suspect, Joshua Jearl Blake, had served time for drugs, assaulting his pregnant girlfriend, and kicking out the window of a police car, among other things, court records show. He was the registered owner of a pickup truck that Radulescu pulled over just before he was shot to death.

Investigators tracked Blake to a home on a dirt road near Port Orchard, about 20 miles west of Seattle across Puget Sound. As SWAT team officers approached, they heard a single gunshot. Blake was taken to Tacoma General Hospital, where he died later in the day.

Radulescu, who served his entire career in the area, spoke five languages — a huge asset in investigating car theft rings with Eastern European ties, said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer, who knew him well.

"He was cautious. He practiced good officer safety," the sheriff said, his eyes misting. "Sometimes the odds are just against you."

Radulescu was a military veteran with a son in the area who is a soldier, Patrol Chief John Batiste said at an early morning news conference at St. Joseph Medical Center. He was well-known and popular in the community where he often spoke in schools, Batiste said.

Boyer said Radulescu would be remembered for his warmth.

"He could write somebody a ticket and they'd say 'thank you,' " Boyer said.

An aid car carrying Radulescu's body was escorted by dozens of patrol cars with lights flashing from the hospital to the Pierce County medical examiner's office where the autopsy would be conducted.

Radulescu stopped the truck around 1 a.m. on Highway 16. He radioed the location and license plate number, said Trooper Russ Winger.

When Radulescu didn't respond to dispatcher status checks, a Kitsap County sheriff's deputy went to the scene and found the fatally wounded trooper outside his patrol car. He was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma where he was declared dead.

Three hours later, officers found the truck abandoned on a county road near Port Orchard, about two miles from the shooting scene.

Investigators received a tip on where to find the registered owner and went to the home.

According to Kitsap County court records, Blake was convicted for assaulting his then-pregnant girlfriend in 2004 as he drove down a street under the influence of alcohol. After being arrested, he kicked out the window of a patrol car.

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.

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