Trooper Tony Radulescu
Washington State Patrol, Washington
End of Watch: Thursday, February 23, 2012
Tour of Duty: 16 years
Badge Number: 557
Cause of Death: Gunfire
Date of Incident: February 23, 2012
Weapon Used: Gun; Unknown type
Suspect Info: Committed suicide
Agency Contact Information
Chief John R. Batiste
Washington State Patrol
General Administration Bldg.
PO Box 42600
Olympia, WA 98504
Phone: (360) 596-4000
Trooper Tony Radulescu was shot and killed while making a traffic stop on a driver of a pickup truck on State Route 16 at Anderson Hill Road, in Gorst, shortly before 1:00 am.
He had radioed in his location and the pickup truck’s license plate and description to dispatchers. When dispatchers were unable to contact him for several minutes, a Kitsap County sheriff’s deputy was sent to check on his status and discovered him laying wounded outside of his patrol car. He was transported to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma where he succumbed to his wounds a short time later.
The vehicle that Trooper Radulescu had stopped was found abandoned on a country road approximately three hours later. A SWAT team deployed to the registered owner’s home and as they approached, the suspect committed suicide.
Trooper Radulescu was a US Army veteran and had served with the Washington State Patrol for 16 years.
Trooper Tony Radulescu’s Facebook page hints at his sense of humor: He studied at "Hard Knox" and listed his occupation as "Secret Squirrel Agent," an apparent reference to the Hanna-Barbera cartoons.
A big-hearted man with a ready smile, Radulescu was known as "Trooper Tony" in the communities surrounding Bremerton, where he spent his entire 16-year career with the State Patrol.
"Tony was the epitome of a state trooper," said Kitsap County Sheriff Steve Boyer. "He could handle problems with courage and he had those interpersonal skills that made everybody like him. He could write somebody a ticket and they would say, ‘Thank you.’ "
Radulescu, 44, who was fatally shot early Thursday during a traffic stop in the unincorporated community of Gorst, was planning to buy a vacation home in Glendale, Ariz., to be closer to his ailing father and his brother’s family.
"He was ‘Big Tony,’ and my daughter was ‘Little Toni.’ He was her favorite uncle," the trooper’s sister-in-law, Mona Radulescu, said by phone Thursday morning before delivering the news to her 10-year-old daughter.
Radulescu was born in Bucharest, the capital of Romania, in August 1967, and immigrated to the U.S. with his father, Leslie, when he was 14, Mona Radulescu said. His mother, who remained in Romania, later remarried, as did Radulescu’s father.
According to Radulescu’s Facebook page, he graduated from Harrison High School in Harrison, N.J., in 1986 and lived in Brooklyn, N.Y. He joined the Army and was stationed for a time in South Korea, said his sister-in-law, who is married to Radulescu’s younger brother, Mario.
He fell in love with the Pacific Northwest and put down roots here after getting out of the service, she said.
"He was happy serving in the Army. He was so dedicated to it," his sister-in-law said. As a trooper, "He was proud of his job," she said.
Radulescu was also a decorated Army reservist, one friend said in an email to The Seattle Times.
Twice divorced, Radulescu is the father of Erick Radulescu, an Army medic stationed at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Mona Radulescu said.
"He’s a really smart guy, a really beautiful guy, in and out," his sister-in-law said of Radulescu, who spoke English, Romanian, Italian, Spanish and Korean.
In 2007, most of the Radulescu clan left the East Coast and moved to Arizona to be closer to "Big Tony," who visited his family three times a year, Mona Radulescu said. He last visited at Thanksgiving and was planning a trip in March, she said.
"He was kind of the head [of the family]. Everybody who has troubles would call him," and he would help them work out steps to deal with a financial problem or health crisis, Mona Radulescu said. "He was the brains to me. He was an awesome father, uncle, brother and friend. I don’t know if I will make another friend like him."
Radulescu was dating a State Patrol dispatcher, she said.
In January, when Radulescu’s girlfriend, Gina Miller, changed her Facebook status from "single" to "in a relationship," Radulescu playfully asked, "Anyone I know?"
On Thursday afternoon, Miller posted a message on Radulescu’s Facebook wall: "I want to thank all of you for your loving thoughts and prayers for my Tony. He was a one of a kind man and I loved him with all my heart. Please pray for him and keep his family in your thoughts and prayers."
Radulescu was "the best of the best" and saw police work as a calling, said Boyer, the Kitsap County sheriff.
"He was a totally positive person," he said. "I never saw him without a smile on his face. Not once. No matter how bad it was."
Radulescu was a well-known figure in local communities where he regularly made presentations to school kids, according to the Patrol.
"The entire community is hurting today," State Patrol Chief John Batiste said in a news release. "… Tony was the kind of person everyone wanted to be around, including me. I truly enjoyed working with him."
During a news conference, Batiste said Radulescu "had a great personality, a real sense of humor."
"It’s a very sad day for the Washington State Patrol," the chief said. "He was a father and peer to many of us who was dearly loved …
"We’re all hurting. I’m hurting," he said.
Seattle Times staff reporter Christine Clarridge and news researcher Gene Balk contributed to this report.
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.
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 2 1/2-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.
"He was a very difficult person," he said.
Radulescu’s death was the first of a trooper on duty in 13 years, although Washington state has seen several law enforcement officers killed in recent years, including four officers from Lakewood who were shot to death by a gunman at a coffee shop in 2009.
The last trooper killed 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.