News and Press Releases

Freeway Shut Down in North Seattle On August 28, 2009, with Shots Flying Overhead

December 2, 2009

RICHARD FLOYD BLAKE, 31, a transient living in a wooded area in north Seattle, pleaded guilty today in U.S. District Court in Seattle to being a felon in possession of a firearm. In his plea agreement, BLAKE admits he was present and is partially responsible for the gunfire on August 28, 2009, that shut down Interstate 5 in both directions around 9:30 in the evening. BLAKE was apprehended in the woods near North Seattle Community College after a two and a half hour stand-off with police. BLAKE faces up to ten years in prison when he is sentenced on March 4, 2010, by U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly.

According to the plea agreement, on the evening of August 28, 2009, multiple people called 9-1-1 reporting the sound of gunfire over the freeway near North Seattle Community College. Some callers reported seeing tracer rounds crossing over the freeway about five feet above the cars. Responding officers determined the gunfire was coming from a wooded area between the college and the I-5 freeway. The freeway was shut down, and the King County helicopter and a Washington State Patrol plane were able to spot two men hiding in the woods. SWAT officers attempted to take both men into custody – one surrendered immediately, but BLAKE ran into the woods and attempted to hide from officers. After a two and a half hour stand-off, officers moved in and arrested BLAKE. Under the language of the plea agreement, BLAKE claims the other man arrested in the woods fired the majority of the shots.

A search of the woods revealed two backpacks containing various weapons and camping material including: a box of shotgun shells, the book “Anarchist Cookbook”, a United States Army Special Forces medical manual, a sheathed fixed-bladed knife, miscellaneous camping supplies, as well as printed pictures of different assault rifles, advertisements for gun parts, and two receipts - one for a rifle stock and another for a rifle barrel, both of which were in BLAKE’s name. In the second larger backpack officers recovered a Norinco (North China Industries), model MAK90, 7.62 caliber semi-automatic rifle (an AK-47 derivative), other miscellaneous gun parts, two sleeping bags and a tent. A further search of the woods turned up 18 shell casings for the large caliber ammunition.

BLAKE was convicted in 2002 of Robbery in King County, Washington. In that case BLAKE robbed a mini-mart clerk at gunpoint. Because of that conviction he is prohibited from possessing a firearm.

BLAKE was prosecuted as part of the Project Safe Neighborhoods program. Unveiled in May 2001, Project Safe Neighborhoods (PSN), is a comprehensive and strategic approach to gun law enforcement. PSN is a nationwide commitment to reduce gun crime in America by networking both new and existing local programs that target gun crime and then providing them with the resources and tools they need to succeed. Implementation at the local level -- in this case, in King County-- has fostered close partnerships between federal, state and local prosecutors and law enforcement.

The case was investigated by the Seattle Police Department, King County Sheriff’s Office, Washington State Patrol, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives.

The case is being prosecuted by Special Assistant United States Attorney Andrew Colasurdo. Mr. Colasurdo is a Deputy King County Prosecutor specially designated to prosecute firearms cases in federal court.

For additional information please contact Emily Langlie, Public Affairs Officer for the United States Attorney’s Office, at (206) 553-4110 or Emily.Langlie@USDOJ.Gov.

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