SEATTLE — Five people have been arrested for allegedly helping a man after he killed a Washington state trooper, including a former girlfriend of deceased gunman Joshua Blake, authorities say.
Jessi Leigh Foster, 32, is the mother of one of Blake's children. Blake, an ex-con with a history of antagonizing police, shot and killed Trooper Tony Radulescu early Thursday morning during a traffic stop, then committed suicide with a single shot to the head hours later.
Shortly after the trooper's death, Blake called Foster and told her he did something bad and needed help to escape, sheriff's Sgt. Ken Dickinson of the Kitsap County sheriff's office told reporters Friday.
She met him at a home on a dirt road a few miles away, where she pressed him on what he had done, he said, and even after Blake acknowledged that he shot a police officer, she continued trying to help.
"She was actively trying to find a way for him to get out of the area," Dickinson said.
She was still in the home with him when he killed himself as a SWAT team closed in, Dickinson said. She was arrested for investigation of rendering criminal assistance; bail was set at $500,000.
Later Friday, Dickinson said four more people were arrested.
He said the two men and two women have been arrested for investigation of rendering criminal assistance and jailed on $500,000 bail. None was identified. They are expected to make court appearances Monday.
One of the four — an 18-year-old woman — is described as being a passenger in Blake's truck when he killed Radulescu.
No other details on the four were released.
Foster made an initial appearance in Kitsap County District Court on Friday. A judge found probable cause for the charge and set further hearings for next month. She did not enter a plea.
"My daughter has a very, very good heart," her father, Wayne Foster, told reporters. "Her ex-boyfriend has just misused her for years upon years, and broke her heart many times. He's been a total frustration to our family, especially to his daughter and to my daughter."
He said his daughter told him she didn't initially realize what had happened when she tried to help Blake, and when she found out, she was scared and didn't know what to do.
According to a detective's affidavit, Jessi Foster was at a party when she received the call from Blake, and she had a friend drive her to meet him. She told investigators that based on a flurry of police activity, including a helicopter flying in the area, she knew he'd done something bad, but it was several hours before he told her he what had happened.
After he told her, he walked outside, and she continued calling and texting friends to see if anyone could pick them up — but did not call 911, the detective's statement said. A SWAT team arrived within the next half-hour, Foster estimated.
She and Blake had tussled in court over custody of their daughter, who is now 3. In court papers he wrote that she had a severe drinking problem and was unstable. In response, a friend of hers, Carole Gonzalez, wrote that Foster was a loving mother and that Blake was never around the child because he had been incarcerated.
The slain trooper was Tony Radulescu, a Romanian immigrant and 16-year veteran of the patrol who had the respect of his peers and was popular in his community.
"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.
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 as he spoke Thursday. "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.
According to Kitsap County court records, Blake was convicted for assaulting his then-pregnant girlfriend — not Foster — 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.
In 2008, a Port Orchard 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 later be caught when a sheriff's office dog team chased him up a tree.
Department of Corrections spokesman Chad Lewis said Blake was a handful both for prison officials and for community corrections officers who tried to supervise him. He completed a 2½-year prison term in early 2010, and last spring he served two months for failing to check in with his community corrections officer. His term of supervision ended last August, Lewis said.
Johnson can be reached at https://twitter.com/GeneAPseattle
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