AP Photo/The News Tribune, Dean J. Koepfler
Investigators examine the area around the patrol car at the scene near Gorst, Wash., where a Washington state trooper was shot and killed during a traffic stop Thursday.
Updated at 5:11 p.m. ET: GORST, Wash. – A suspect in the shooting death of a Washington state trooper has died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Kitsap County Sheriff's Office confirmed Thursday afternoon that the man had passed away after being taken to Tacoma General Hospital.
Trooper Tony Radulescu, 44.
The suspect was 28-year-old Joshua Jearl Blake, an ex-con with a history of drugs, assaulting the mother of one of his children, and kicking out the window of a police car. Blake was the registered owner of a pickup that Trooper Tony Radulescu pulled over just before he was shot to death early Thursday.
Investigators tracked Blake to a home near Port Orchard, where he shot himself as a SWAT team closed in.
“It’s a bad day," Washington State Patrol Chief John Batiste told KING5.com. "It’s a terrible thing to receive a phone call that lets you know that one of your people has been injured in the line of duty. To have that compounded by the loss of that trooper. It’s a bad day.”
Radulescu, 44, had stopped the driver of a dark green Ford F-350 around 1 a.m. Thursday near Port Orchard, about 20 miles west of Seattle across the Puget Sound, and radioed the location and license plate number, according to Trooper Russ Winger.
When the trooper didn't respond to status checks, a Kitsap County sheriff's deputy went to the scene and found the wounded trooper outside his patrol car.
"He got here at 1:14 a.m., four minutes later, to find the injured trooper next to his vehicle," Trooper Ken Dickinson told KING5.com. "He immediately called for medical help."
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.
"It was down a long country driveway, so it was kind of obvious it was ditched back there," Winger told KING5.com. "You had to drive down there with some intent -- not a real reason to go down there."
Troopers, deputies and other officers searched the area for the driver using dogs and questioning people. Dogs failed to pick up a track, Winger said.
Officers from multiple law enforcement agencies in the region had canvassed the area, knocking on doors to do welfare checks at homes, according to KING5.com. They urged residents to stay inside and call 911 if they saw anything suspicious.
The slain trooper was a well-respected veteran who worked out of the Bremerton station. He was also a military veteran with a son who is a soldier.
"We're all hurting, I'm hurting," Batiste told The Seattle Times. "He was a father and peer to many of us who was dearly loved. He served this country in the military and was with this organization for about 16 years."
"It's difficult,” Winger told KING5.com. “He was a personal friend of mine, a personal co-worker, he worked closely with me.... I've known this person for 14-15 years. I've been too busy to really think about the tragedy of it right now. It's going to sink in later."
Dozens of patrol cars with lights flashing escorted an aid car carrying the trooper's body about 6:30 a.m. Thursday from the hospital to the Pierce County medical examiner's office.
The last Washington State Patrol trooper killed on duty 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.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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