Gun encounter leads to arrests

By Anthony Skeens, The Triplicate February 11, 2013 05:44 pm

Authorities arrested a mother and son after tracing stolen property to their residence following a report that someone pointed a gun at a visitor in Jedediah Smith Redwoods State Park during a vehicle burglary.

On Jan. 26, a person driving along Howland Hill Road in the park came across a man burglarizing a vehicle and began writing down the license plate number to the perpetrator’s truck. The car prowler then pulled out a handgun, said Del Norte County sheriff’s Sgt. Steve Morris.

The perpetrator then tried to flee the scene in the truck, but got it stuck in a ditch, and he fled into the woods, Morris said.

When deputies arrived, the vehicle was still running and the reporting party had left after calling 911, Morris said.

A deputy noticed some items in the truck’s bed that had been stolen in a Jan. 16 home burglary in Klamath, when rifles, shotguns, ammunition, suitcases full of items and a computer were taken, Morris said.

The truck’s registration was tied back to 51-year-old Tanya Blanchard on Elk Valley Road, Morris said.

When deputies went to question her about the truck, she said it had been stolen less then a half hour before their arrival, Morris said.

Suspicious of her initial statement, a deputy contacted her last week and she told him that her son called her to have her report the truck stolen after the park incident, Morris said.

She was then arrested on suspicion of possessing stolen property and filing a false police report, Morris said.

On Monday, patrol deputies  found Blanchard’s son, 27-year-old Robert Wheeler, of Crescent City, and arrested him on suspicion of burglary and possessing stolen property.

Authorities served a search warrant at Blanchard’s mobile home and storage units located at 208 Elk Valley Road on Tuesday, Morris said.

In the units, they found the suitcases, computer and ammunition taken in the Klamath burglary, Morris said.

They also came across percussion instruments estimated to be worth about $10,000 reported stolen by a Curry County resident, a law enforcement belt and a California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation jacket reported missing from a vehicle in Crescent City, a forged check stolen from a mailbox in Smith River and other property reported missing from a burglary in Smith River, Morris said.

“We pretty much have everything but the guns,” said Morris. “We’re going to continue looking for those guns.”

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