PORT ORCHARD - The Washington State Patrol has identified the trooper shot and killed near Port Orchard early this morning as Tony Radulescu, assigned to the state patrol office in Bremerton.
The 44-year-old trooper was shot and later died during a routine traffic stop this morning on Highway 16.
The Kitsap Sun reports that the shooting occurred around 1 a.m.
The trooper made a traffic stop just before 1 a.m., near Gorst. According to officials, Radulescu had stopped a pickup truck and radioed the vehicle’s location and license plate number, but dispatchers did not hear back from him after that.
The owner of the pickup truck was later found wounded at his home. Members of a SWAT team heard a single shot from inside the house as they approached the door, went inside and found him wounded by a self-inflicted gunshot. The Kitsap Sun has since reported that the suspected gunman has died at Tacoma General Hospital Thursday afternoon.
The Kitsap Sun idenitified the suspect as Joshua Jearl Blake, an ex-convict with an extensive criminal history.
A Kitsap County Sheriff's Deputy arrived on the scene to check on the trooper - whom authorities haven't identified - and found him lying on the side of the road. The trooper was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Tacoma, where he died.
Police are looking for the suspected gunman, and they believe they have found the suspect's truck in a rural area close to the highway.
Authorities have closed eastbound Highway 16 near the shooting scene, and traffic moving in the opposite direction is moving very slow. Investigators are expected to be on the scene for a few hours.
WSP troopers on both sides of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge have been reported looking for the suspect this morning.
"As you can imagine, every police officer in this region is looking for this individual at this time," WSP Chief John Batiste told members of the media this morning.
He described the victim as "an individual with a great personality."
Troooper Radulescu was a 16-year veteran of the agency, having begun state service in December 1995. He completed training and was commissioned as a trooper in July 1996. He served his entire career in the patrol’s Bremerton district, working in several local communities.
“We’ve lost a co-worker, and the citizens of Washington have lost a humble public servant,” said Batiste. “Tony was the kind of person everyone wanted to be around, including me. I truly enjoyed working with him.”
Trooper Radulescu was popular outside the patrol as well. He was well known in the community for the many visits and presentations he did at local schools. “The entire community is hurting today,” Batiste said.
Funeral arrangements are pending. Several members of Trooper Radulescu’s family live out of state, and the patrol will defer to their wishes regarding a service.
This marks the 27th WSP trooper who has been killed in the line of duty since the 1920s, he added.
Rep. Jan Angel, R-Port Orchard, issued the following statement Thursday morning.
“This is an extremely tragic and sad day for the state of Washington and for our Kitsap-area communities where this trooper lived and was actively involved. This hits close to home as I have two grandsons who serve as Washington State Patrol troopers, and one of them called me at 5 a.m. to tell me this heartbreaking news. I have such great respect for the men and women of the Washington State Patrol and for all of law enforcement, who put their lives on the line every day so that our citizens remain safe and are protected. My heart goes out to his family, his friends and his co-workers. Our prayers remain with them and with our law enforcement officers who are grieving this tremendous loss.”
“We must always keep in mind the tremendous risks law enforcement officers take at every call. My condolences go out to Trooper Radulescu and his family. His sacrifice reinforces our commitment to ensure that both our troopers and their loved ones have the support they need, on and off duty,” said Sen. Derek Kilmer, D-Gig Harbor.
Batiste is also thanking the many other law enforcement agencies that have assisted this morning. The Kitsap County Sheriff’s Office is leading the criminal investigation, with assistance from many other agencies.
“They came in our time of need, and we will be forever grateful,” Batiste said. “We received great comfort from both their personal good wishes, and their professional work in resolving this terrible case.”
Patch will have more on this story as it develops.