Doug Norton's troubled history revealed

The Spring Lake Township man who killed himself Tuesday during a traffic stop led a troubled life, his father said Wednesday.
Becky Vargo
Aug 30, 2012


Doug Norton, 21, died after shooting himself Tuesday afternoon. Police said he was driving a stolen pickup truck when he turned off northbound U.S. 31 in Norton Shores onto the Pontaluna Road exit ramp after police turned on the overhead lights on their cruisers in an attempt to stop him.

The 15-year-old girl at his side, Kayla Pierson, also of Spring Lake Township, was not injured. The girl was cooperative and was turned over to her parents after being interviewed by police, said Lt. Mark Bennett of the Ottawa County Sheriff’s Department.

Kayla had been reported missing from her home in the 16000 block of 144th Avenue on Monday night. The truck was also taken from her home, as were two guns and some jewelry, Bennett said.

To read the original story on the shooting death, click here.

Brian Norton of Holton said his son was a good kid, for the most part, but the young man had been in trouble and couldn’t see a way out.

“He told his mom, ‘If the police pull me over, I’m going to shoot myself,’” the elder Norton said.

Parents need to take these kinds of comments seriously, Norton said. If there is anything parents should take away from this incident, it’s to “please watch your children, keep an eye on them, take nothing for granted," Norton said.

Norton said his son grew up normal “all the way until he started the drugs.” That was at about age 14 when he was caught holding narcotics by a school officer, Brian Norton said. Doug told police he was just holding it for a friend, his father said.

“I bought the home (drug test) kit and I tested him," Norton said. "It came back positive."

The younger Norton started counseling and treatments, but he couldn't stay away from drugs, his father said.

Doug had been in jail for 63 days when he was sentenced Aug. 13 on charges of home invasion and larceny in a building. He had 57 more days to serve or the option of going into an in-home treatment center. Brian Norton said that’s what they wanted for Doug when he was charged with breaking into his grandmother’s house.

Family members decided not to bail him out, with the hope that he would get into rehab, his father said.

Doug was sent to the Chester Ray Rehabilitation Center in Holland about a week ago. He stayed there for only a couple of days.

“He fell in with the wrong people there,” Brian Norton said. “They snuck out, planning for a night on the town. They couldn’t get back in.”

A memorial gathering is set for 6-8 p.m. Friday at The Lee Chapel of the Sytsema Funeral Home, 6291 S. Harvey St. in Norton Shores. Memorial contributions can be directed to the family for a sibling’s trust fund.

The rest of this story can be found in Thursday's print and e-edition of the Grand Haven Tribune.




Please accept my condolences. I can't imagine the pain you are going through.


Yes Doug had a Troubled Life but he wasnt a BAD Kid.I knew Doug for several years where he lived with his Mom an his Sister.I always Thought Doug was a good kid an i did see where he was changing toward drugs, i tried to have him get some help an look HARD into going into Military an get his life Straighten out he was in Favor of that but said to me that he worried about his sister an his Mom.I am DEEPLY Sorry for this happening an cant imagine what his parents an sister are going through at this time.My HEART goes out to the Family.My Thoughts n PRAYERS will be with him an his Family..


This is such a sad ordeal. I feel for the people left behind. Suicide is the hardest thing to deal with.....leaving others to pick up the pieces and with so many unanswered questions.
This is a prime example of parents raising their kids right, but kids taking off in their own direction and making their own choices. It's easy to blame the parents for a child's behavior, but everybody makes their own choices in life, regardless how good or how poorly they were brought up.
To the 15 year old girl.....this is also an example of how your choices affect so many other people. It's a shame that you had to see what you saw, but hopefully you will learn from the decisions you've already made in your short lifetime.


This is one of the biggest reasons we as a society need to change our work ethic. We are workoholics and bosses & managment, stock holders are relentless with the 50 hour $10 an hour work weeks. When a father is just too exhausted day after day for a decade is rediculas. If he quits - thats no solution, because every other job is the same way. Fathers need to be there for their kids - but society doesn't seem to ever get it. Look at the woman who had to quit her job because she could not get the time off to take her son to a once in a life time national litte league. She is a CPA which is good for her. She can find another job easily. Europe recogizes family time-5 weeks off legislated by the government for every worker. Look how happy they are, healthier, live longer and eat the same junk food we do. Personally I have no regrets having 40 jobs in my lifetime. I refused to work overtime when asked (got fired a few times for it) because my kids needed me. I invested wisely when I was young and planned this all out financially and no debts currently. I confidently tell my bosses to take their over time and shove it !!! I'm going to my sons games and I don't care !!! I am my kids best friend! PI$$ on those employers! Get a back bone people!!!


What an ignorant rant. There are many people who commit suicide whose parents were as close to perfect as it gets and who never missed a game, worked too much, etc. Blaming parents, even in a roundabout way like this, during a time they are grieving such a tragic loss is senseless and just plain cruel.

My sincere condolences to this young man's family, friends, and all impacted by this situation.




Moderators have removed this comment because it contained personal attacks. Discussion Guidelines


The sad part to say is that these were not perfect parents, far from it. However I don't think it would have changed the path Doug was on, despite the many people that loved him and begged for him to see the light and that his path was only leading to destruction he kept on doing what he wanted to do. It is a sad thing that he thought this was the best solution to his problem and no parent should ever have to bury their child. I also think that with his past psychiatric history that someone should have listened more to him. My question is if he left the treatment facility and couldn't get back in... they had to know he was missing why wasn't there a warrant for him, or a BOLO at the very least? How was he able to go so many days in plain sight?

My prayers go out to his mom, little sister and father... but additionally to Kayla and her family, as she will need some serious counseling to get her through this.

There is so much that could be said, but I hope his family can take comfort in that he is now with his grandpa "Bob" to help watch over him, he is now at peace. May the Lord's love heal you in his way and his time.


"The younger Norton started counseling and treatments, but he couldn't stay away from drugs, his father said." Are you kidding me? The parents knew about this when he was 14 and thats about as much as they did for him? Heres a prime example of why children should be raised in ONE home with a mother and father BOTH there. Broken families raise broken children. If you can't have ONE stable home to raise a child, don't have children!! It's just that simple.


Great point. There are no drug addicts from homes with both parents present. Oh wait, ummm... yes there are. In fact, a good majority of drug addicts I have known personally are from homes with both parents present.

Do you have even an ounce of evidence suggesting that drug addicts are more prevalent from broken homes? I don't mean can you go search on google now and find something, but did you have any basis at all when you wrote this? To me it seems like another ignorant rant that insinuates that these parents, while grieving the loss of their son, are somehow to blame. And not only that, but you claim to have figured out the precise way they failed him, by being divorced. How inconsiderate to manipulate this situation to get on a soap box about your pet issue.

In a tragic situation like this, the day after the death nonetheless, it helps no one to assign blame in this way. A grieving family needs concern and support from their community during this time. Parents who lose children typically assign themselves 100% of the blame even if they were not at all responsible. Let's choose to support and care rather than finger point and criticize.

I hope the family can ignore these senseless types of comments and know that they have the support from the majority of their caring community. Our hearts are heavy for them, and our thoughts and prayers are with them.


Yes, what Zeke said.


You seriously think what happened is a result of being from a broken family?


To getoverit: I can't believe you would honestly blame single parent families... that is about the stupidest thing I have every read. No one is prepared for this and you can't judge what you would do in this situation. You can sit back and preach and think there is no way my child would be in this situation but plenty of teens have gotten into trouble who have two parents living in their home. Drugs are a serious problem and my heart goes out to this family who loved their son and now have to say goodbye. Teens make terrible choices but that is still their baby.


It's not that simple. Many very successful people were raised by single parents...Bill Clinton and Barrack Obama are two examples. In some cases the home situation is worse if both parents live there.


I was raised in a single parent home with a mom no where in sight and I haven't done a drug in my life and have a succesful career. You can't pass off judgement based on his parents divoce. Maybe he had good parents, maybe bad parents, who knows. The article doesn't explain that. Save your judgements for your own family, prick.




I do not know why people assume that single parent homes are setting kids up for failure, I was raised in a single parent home and I din't turn to drugs. SO let's not blame the parents. Even though he was a very young man he made the choices he made. I know drug addiction is a disease and I know how hard it must be to try to kick the habit. I am so sorry he felt that suicide was his only option. I understand he was court ordered to rehab well as any who has been there knows you have to want to quit if you don't want it then it will never happen. I am sorry for his families loss and pray they will get through this. And for the young man he is finally at peace with himself.


i am so sorry for your loss my heart hurts with you. Zeke you talk to much.


Guessing you mean "too much"?

Too bad. Move along then. There's plenty of other things to read on the Internet. Perhaps some grammar or punctuation literature would be helpful.


Yes thank you, you talk too much.


A boy was so sad, lost, hurt that he chose to take his own life... I think maybe the real problem here is people around here are too busy pointing the finger at who/what to blame... instead we should become LESS judgmental and MORE approachable so that it's not a crime to ask for help when we need it most! I pray to God that he's in a better place, a place where you are not judged or talked badly about when you have died, or even worse, been in such distress that you felt the need to take your own life... this is why people do this, it's not "kosher" to talk about your distress and ask for help... read the comments on this page as proof!!
**I pray for you that you have found peace, in a place much better than this... I pray your pain and suffering has ended and that you feel relief!**


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