It’s been 48 days since Josh Blake, 28, before turning the gun on himself in one of the most tragic and widely reported crimes this year. Blake, reportedly high on methamphetamine, shot Trooper Tony Radulescu during a routine traffic stop in Port Orchard.
Surrounded by law enforcement after an intense police manhunt that ended in a decrepit trailer in the woods, Blake put a gun to his own head and pulled the trigger.
In the weeks following, much was reported about , a father and husband who was active in his community. He was as hundreds of police in patrol vehicles showed their support for one of their own.
The public learned a bit more about Blake, too. Mainly that he was a known meth user who had served jail time for domestic violence. After his death, Josh was cremated and his family hosted a quiet memorial at the Buckley Eagles Club. Twenty-six-year-old Chris, a Sumner resident, Bonney Lake city employee and the middle child of three Blake brothers, said a few words that felt sadly familiar. His family buried their father almost exactly a year earlier -- many of the words said at the two funerals were the same.
Last summer, he and Josh hiked Staircase and scattered their father’s ashes in among the trees, streams and stones that mattered so much to the three of them. And now sitting at his brother’s funeral, he knew he’d be returning to the same woods to scatter his brother’s ashes, too.
The Blake family has started the legal process of adopting Josh’s two children; his 8-year-old son will stay with his grandmother and his 3-year-old will be raised as Chris’s daughter.
That process begun, Chris Blake had another thing he needed to do. He wanted to sit down and tell the public that a drug-fueled cop killer isn’t the sum total of his brother; that his family’s sorrow for Trooper Tony’s family is profound; and that he’s not sure how anyone can ever make peace with the fact that a family member, a loved one, committed one of the worst crimes imaginable.
Here is part one of Patch’s conversation with Chris Blake, edited for length and clarity.
Thanks for meeting with me, Chris. First, what do you want people to know most about Josh and your family?
My main thing is, I want people to have respect for his kids and don’t treat them bad about it. They’ll figure it out at school if they didn’t figure it out at home. I want people to know that these kids don’t have a bad family. Josh didn’t have a bad family, or a bad childhood. He had good parents. He has good kids. He did a lot of good things in his life and it should be a lesson to anybody who sees themselves in a situation with drugs – this could happen to you, because it happened to him. That was not the kind of guy he was.
Also, I wanted to clear something up – there have been a lot of reports that he was a white supremacist, because he had a bald head and lots of tattoos. He definitely wasn’t.
What was going on in his life at the time, before he died?
My dad and Josh were really close. Almost inseparable. My dad got small cell cancer and passed away Feb. 26, 2011. After he died my brother went from being his normal self to… I don’t know how to explain it, but you could tell he was high. He seemed really nervous. I didn’t know how Josh could live without my dad, he was the guy who was always there for him–he left his family when he was really young to go live with him. When Dad died I almost wondered if my brother Josh was going to make it, he started to get really messed up.
When my dad died he left the family house to his girlfriend. She liked Josh but she didn’t want him living in the house because of the drugs. Josh lost his dad, his house, everything. He lost his whole life when my dad passed away, the life he’d built since he was a little kid. It was gone in a flash.
What was it like to grow up with Josh?
Josh was the first kid in the family so he was definitely very loved and very well taken care of. He was the oldest and the strongest. Everybody liked him. He didn’t seem to have a lot of hate in his heart.
He seemed fearless, always. If anything scared him, he wouldn’t let any of us know because he was the oldest brother.
He was very protective over his brothers, but he definitely had problems with authority. He had been messed around with by some cops when he was young so he mostly tried to avoid trouble but would always find himself in it.
When did your brother start using drugs? What was he like when he was on them?
When he was young he wanted to be cool. He probably started with drinking. He’s told me the meth started early, but we didn’t know about it until he started getting in trouble for it, probably around 18 or 19.
He’d use it to where he wasn’t sleeping at night. That makes people go crazy, I think. He wouldn’t be his normal self. Once he got into needling that stuff, there’s no turning back, really.
Tell me about your family, growing up. Did Josh have a hard childhood?
I think it really was just the drugs that made him do this, because we had a really good childhood. We had lots of people around us all the time, and our parents weren’t rich, but they weren’t poor, either. We went on family vacations and normal stuff like everyone else did, so it’s really hard to say that it could have been anything other than the drugs.
Our parents divorced when we were really young, but my mom has been with my stepdad for 20 years. My mom and dad were only 17 when they had Josh, so that’s a lot to go through, for a young couple. They didn’t have an easy time with it and there was a custody battle, but it ended well for us kids because we got to see both parents. Some kids don’t get that after a custody battle. Josh went to live with our dad when he was really young and I went up every weekend or so.
What was his personality like?
It’s weird to say it now, but he just seemed invincible. You would think a truck hit him and it’d bounce off, or something. He was such a big personality. He was one of those people who could figure anything out. The kids loved him and jumped all over him like he was a giant jungle gym.
He liked to work outside–we would go camping, hiking, fishing. He spent most of his time in the woods during the summer. When you’d go hiking with him, you’d hike until you couldn’t go any further.
The thing about Josh, he was very independent. We were trying for a long time to get him to stay with us. We even have an extra bedroom with a dresser and we said he could come stay there anytime. My mom has always had a room for him. We tried to help him out, but he was very independent and would do whatever it took to stay on his side of the woods and stay alive.
Why do you think your brother had such an issue with authority?
We were always worried about him getting institutionalized. The problem was, when he got out of jail, he’d have nowhere to work. No one wants to hire someone with a criminal record like that. So, he would find construction jobs, he’d chop wood or pick up brush. There’s money in it, but it’s seasonal so everything he would do was seasonal. He would have the most trouble around January and February when there was no work. He couldn’t just go to a nice indoor job. He couldn’t even flip burgers for a month to keep himself out of the winter because of his criminal record. It was like, what else is he supposed to do? A couple of times, it seemed like he went back to jail because he had nowhere else to be.
Did it ever cross your mind that your brother would be capable of doing something like this?
If you pushed Josh, the first thing he’d want to do is resist. And then you knew it was best to leave him alone when he was on drugs. He would become unpredictable. He was a completely different person on drugs. When he was on drugs, you didn’t know how he’d react to things. That’s the only time he really seemed violent or scary at all.
He would get into drugs for about a month or so and he’d get caught. It would only take him a month or two to get into trouble again, once he was out. [Before he shot the trooper] we hadn’t heard from him in about a month or so, which made us think he was using again.
This is the first installment of a 3-part interview with Chris Blake. Tomorrow, Chris talks about the day everything went wrong for Trooper Tony’s family and his own.