Doug Norton's troubled history revealed

Becky Vargo • Jul 21, 2015 at 11:42 AM

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.

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