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CANTON – An N.C. State Highway Patrol trooper was killed in a shooting during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 near Canton on Tuesday night, authorities said.

Trooper David Shawn Blanton was shot twice, said Lt. A.J. Dickey, with the Highway Patrol in Asheville. Blanton was taken to Mission Hospitals where he later died.

Blanton, of Cherokee, was a two-year veteran of the patrol. He was married and had one child.

First Sgt. S.D. Greene, public information officer for the State Highway Patrol in Raleigh, confirmed early this morning that the trooper had died.

Blanton reported that he had stopped a vehicle at 10:20 p.m. A passerby reported that he had been shot, Greene said.

Dickey said Blanton stopped the eastbound vehicle for a traffic violation, but it’s unknown what the violation was. Blanton got the driver out of the vehicle and an altercation between the driver and Blanton ensued. The man shot Blanton twice, once in the shoulder and another bullet grazed his wrist.

It’s unclear whose gun the man used to shoot the trooper, Dickey said. Blanton was wearing a bulletproof vest.

Dickey did not immediately know the suspect’s name. However, he is from Florida and was driving from Tennessee, Dickey said.

After shooting Blanton, the man fled the scene in his vehicle and immediately exited I-40 on exit 31. He turned left on N.C. Highway 215 where Haywood County Sheriff’s deputies and Canton police officers located him a short distance up the road, Dickey said. He was taken to the Haywood County jail.

Dickey described Blanton as a family man and a “very active trooper.”

“Trooper Blanton was a brave individual and we all know that this could happen,” Dickey said. “But you’ve just got to put it in the back of your head."

The State Bureau of Investigation early this morning was on the scene of the shooting at eastbound exit 31 and was investigating.

“He was changing the world,” Dickey said. “He was just a great kid.”

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North Carolina Trooper Shot Making Traffic Stop Dies

The Associated Press

Authorities charged a Florida man with first-degree murder Wednesday after a state Highway Patrol trooper was shot and killed during a traffic stop on Interstate 40 in western North Carolina.
Edwardo Wong II, 37, of Ormond Beach, Fla., is in custody at the Haywood County Detention Center, about 20 miles west of Asheville. He does not yet have an attorney but is expected to appear with a lawyer at an initial court hearing Wednesday, said jail administrator Lt. Lucrecia Ray.
Trooper David Shawn Blanton Jr., 24, was shot after he stopped a vehicle in the eastbound lanes of I-40 near exit 31 about 10:20 p.m. Tuesday, said Highway Patrol spokesman Lt. Everett Clendenin. Blanton later died at Mission Hospitals in Asheville.
Authorities said the shooting occurred after Blanton stopped a vehicle that was towing a passenger car for an unknown traffic violation.
Clendenin said Blanton was hit by two shots, one non life-threatening. The fatal shot entered his torso in an area not protected by his bulletproof vest, then struck organs inside his body.
Clendenin said Wong fled the scene after the shooting with the trooper's sidearm, but it was not yet clear if that was the gun used to kill Blanton. Patrol First Sgt. S.D. Greene said a passerby called police to report that Blanton had been shot.
Wong was arrested soon after by Haywood County sheriff's deputies and Canton police; he had fled in his vehicle and was tracked down near a highway not far from where the shooting occurred. Clendenin said police later found weapons and narcotics in Wong's vehicle.
Clendenin said the Wong was from Florida and was driving from Tennessee.
Records from the Florida Department of Corrections indicate Wong has 19 criminal convictions dating to 1996 that include armed burglary, assault with a weapon, carrying a concealed weapon, sale and possession of marijuana and escape. He was incarcerated in Florida from 1998 to 2005.
Blanton was a native of Sylva and had been on the force for two years. He was married and had one child. He is the 59th trooper to die in the line of duty since the North Carolina Highway Patrol was formed in 1929, and the first to be killed since 1997.
"Incidents like this remind us of what a dangerous profession law enforcement is," said Secretary of Crime Control and Public Safety Bryan E. Beatty in a statement.

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