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WHITTIER, - A 21-year-old Cherokee resident faces charges he stole a collection jar for slain N.C. State Trooper David Shawn Blanton Jr.'s family from a gas station in Jackson County.
Tanoli George, 21, of Sim Jessin Road, Cherokee, was already in custody on larceny charges stemming from a joint investigation by the Sheriff's Office and the Cherokee Police Department into thefts in the Qualla community, said Jackson County Sheriff's Capt. Steve Lillard.
Lillard, in a written statement, said George was arrested with several others Aug. 13. A Cherokee police lieutenant noticed that George fit the description of a man wanted in a July 18 robbery at the Catamount Travel Center on U.S. 441 in Whittier.
The store is located near the entrance to the Cherokee Indian Reservation.
The donation canister and food were stolen during the robbery. The store's surveillance camera captured images of the suspect and his vehicle.
Investigators found the vehicle used in the gas station robbery on Long Bow Lane the day after arresting George on the other larceny charges.
He is in jail in lieu of $19,000 bail on charges of felony breaking and entering, felony larceny, felony possession of stolen property and two counts of misdemeanor larceny.
Lillard said he did not know how much money had been in the collection jar, and business owners could not be reached.
Blanton died June 17 after he was shot during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 in Canton. Prosecutors plan to seek the death penalty for 37-year-old Edwardo Wong II, charged with first-degree murder in Blanton's death.
Blanton left behind a newborn son, Tye, who was born prematurely, and wife Michaela Blanton.
Tye has serious cardiac and neurological conditions and has been listed in critical condition.
The Western North Carolina community has pitched in to help the family with motorcycle rides, fundraisers at car dealerships, golf tournaments and jars at store counters across the region.
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