When he was 19 years old, Mark L. Blake Jr. was walking near his West Ashley home when he caught the eye of a patrolling sheriff’s sergeant.
The sergeant ordered backup for what was reported as suspicious activity. Other deputies soon pulled up next to Blake and tried to chat.
“I didn’t do it,” he said, according to a report.
Then he ran.
Blake sprinted out of the residential area near Savage Road, but he dodged the deputies only briefly; they tackled him outside an InTown Suites on Savannah Highway.
While frisking Blake, they found a .25-caliber Raven Arms pistol and a scale used for weighing drugs.
Blake said he “had found the handgun and carried it for protection because he lived in a rough neighborhood,” a deputy’s report stated.
Less than a half-mile away and seven years later, after being convicted of carrying that firearm and of carrying drugs, state agents said the 26-year-old led a different lawman on another foot chase.
He again had a gun on him, but this time, the agents said, he tried to kill his pursuer.
Blake now faces one count of attempted murder, a charge that the State Law Enforcement Division filed Wednesday, Agent Thom Berry said. Wounded in the encounter, the Queens Castle Court resident remains hospitalized under the watch of a jail guard.
During a hearing in his room Wednesday, a magistrate denied him bail.
On Saturday night, Blake ran away from the rental car he crashed as Charleston Police Officer Cory Goldstein tried to stop it.
During a foot pursuit, he “abruptly stopped and turned to face the oncoming officer,” an arrest affidavit stated, behind the Comfort Suites at Sam Rittenberg Boulevard and Savannah Highway. He shot at Goldstein with a .40-caliber Glock 22 pistol, according to the document.
The officer was hit four times, but he managed to fire back, shooting Blake in the arm and leg.
Backup officers arrived and found Goldstein still aiming and the Glock near the suspect’s feet.
Charleston police officials have hesitated to talk about the man accused of shooting Goldstein and how the officer responded, but Chief Greg Mullen is expected to address the media this afternoon.
It’s likely that Goldstein’s protective vest helped save his life. A bullet struck the area that shielded his chest.
South Carolina has a grim history of gun violence against police officers. Between 2002 and 2011, 16 law agents in the Palmetto State were slain by someone with a gun, making its rate the fourth-deadliest during that period nationwide.
Blake had never been accused of a violent crime, but his rap sheet has steadily grown since his first arrest as an 18-year-old.
Blake first went to jail in 2004 and has returned at some point during all but two years since then, according to his SLED rap sheet. But he never spent long behind bars or did hard time. If convicted of attempted murder, he could face up to 30 years in prison.
Charleston County Sheriff’s Office deputies and city police officers have encountered him often.
In October 2004, an officer tried to speak with Blake on Ashley Avenue in downtown Charleston. As a precaution, the officer patted down Blake for weapons and came across 8.5 grams of marijuana packaged in five small bags, according to the affidavit.
The document didn’t state the reason for the stop, just that it was done legally. Prosecutors dropped the three felony drug charges.
After running from deputies the next year, Blake was convicted of carrying a gun. He was fined $50 and ordered to spend a year on probation.
He also was plagued by problems at home. For years, he had been at odds with his father, according to court records.
In 2008 he was arrested because he showed up at his father’s home on East Westchester Drive after he had been placed on trespass notice. The year before that, his father called the Sheriff’s Office because Blake wouldn’t give up his set of keys to the house.
He worked jobs as a cook at Papa John’s Pizza and as a driver for his father’s chauffeuring business, Cardinal’s Limousine Service.
His arrests on drug crimes continued to mount.
Officers looking into drug activity in West Ashley pulled over his car in 2008 after it turned without a signal. They first smelled marijuana, then found a trace of cocaine inside his Oldsmobile, they reported.
Later, as the officers brought him to police headquarters, they said he pulled out a 4.5-gram bag of cocaine and tried to throw it under their patrol car.
Those charges also were dropped.
His first drug conviction came after Charleston police found cocaine and marijuana on him on Meeting Street. He was convicted only of misdemeanor cocaine possession; felony distribution charges were dropped.
For the cocaine, he was given 18 months on probation, which he violated later that year when an agent reported in an affidavit that he had lied about where he was living, had not found a “legal job,” had not paid any fines and had not tried to earn his GED.
For the violation, he was given another 18 months on probation.
Two months later, Charleston officers arrested him for possessing a bludgeon or metal knuckles. He was convicted of the misdemeanor and sentenced to time served.
State troopers arrested Blake in April 2012 after they spotted his car speeding. The S.C. Highway Patrol said he was drunk and had cocaine and a gun on him during the traffic stop.
After that incident he posted $50,000 bail on felony charges, but authorities said he broke the conditions of his release with his next arrest months later.
In February, deputies ended a two-month investigation when they nabbed Blake and his girlfriend at their Jobee Drive apartment in West Ashley on charges of trafficking cocaine and heroin.
That case remains unresolved.
In Blake’s 13 arrests, he has avoided felony convictions as they are defined by state law. But the misdemeanors he pleaded guilty to made it illegal for him to have a gun.
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
Charleston Police Department Officer Cory Goldstein, who was shot four times March 30, 2013, during a foot pursuit with a felon.×
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