A 32-year-old homeless felon was sentenced to five years in federal court in Seattle for gun possession on Thursday. Richard Floyd Blake, who lived in the woods in Seattle, fired shots over Interstate 5 in August of 2009. The freeway was shut down in both directions, and Blake was arrested after a two and a half hour standoff with police.
Read the complete news release issued by the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Friday:
RICHARD FLOYD BLAKE, 32, a transient living in a wooded area in north Seattle, was sentenced yesterday afternoon in U.S. District Court in Seattle to five years in prison and three years of supervised release for being a felon in possession of a firearm. BLAKE was 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. At sentencing U.S. District Judge Thomas S. Zilly said BLAKE showed extreme indifference to the incredible danger he posed to the surrounding neighborhood and motorists on the freeway.
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. However, all the evidence gathered in the case points to BLAKE as the shooter, and Judge Zilly rejected BLAKE’s claims at sentencing.
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.
In asking for a sentence above BLAKE’s guidelines range, Special Assistant United States Attorney Andy Colasurdo notes the inherent danger in BLAKE’s actions saying, “his decision evidenced an extreme indifference to human life. Each and every bullet fired from that weapon endangered the lives of every single person traveling along that portion of Interstate 5 that night, not to mention all the citizens located in the densely populated residential neighborhood on the east side of the interstate.”
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 was 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.