Del Oro grad dies a hero

Retired Marine killed saving others from gunman in North Carolina
By: Joyia Emard, Loomis News Editor
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Todd Asa North, 39, a 1991 Del Oro High School graduate and retired Marine staff sergeant, is being called a hero by friends after he was killed while saving North Carolina bar patrons from a gunman.

According to the “Sun Journal,” in New Bern, N.C., North was fatally shot in the early morning hours on Sunday, April 14. Five other people were also injured by the gunman, who was shot by North.

Those injured in the gunfight include one Marine who was shot in each leg, a second Marine who was shot in one leg, and three people who were hit by bullet fragments, according to Havelock Police Investigator Lt. Brian Woods.

North was the head of security at a nightclub in Havelock, N.C., in the town that is home to Cherry Island Marine Base. North’s mother, Judy Payne, of Loomis, said her son had served at the base prior to receiving full retirement from the Marines.

North had broken up a fight earlier on the night of his death when an 18-year-old high school junior involved in the fight returned with a semi-automatic handgun.

Craven County District Attorney Scott Thomas said an autopsy showed North was hit by four 40-caliber bullets in the chest and shoulder area.

A witness said during a TV news interview with ABC affiliate WCTI in New Bern, N.C., “I know for a fact he saved a lot of people.”

Witnesses told reporters North was trying to lock the front door to prevent the shooter from re-entering the bar.

"He stepped right in front of the door. Even up until his last breath, he was trying to lock the door so the (suspect) couldn't get in," witness Lisa Taylor told television news reporters.

At some point, North exchanged shots with the gunman, who was wounded and later treated for a gunshot wound to the stomach.

North’s mother, who is a retired Del Oro Spanish teacher and administrator, described him as a having “a golden heart, a patriot,” who believed in service to God and country.

She also said that her son believed in a person’s right to bear arms and said he would not want others to use his death to promote gun control.

New Bern resident Zachary Leingang created a petition that requests President Obama to award North the Presidential Citizens Medal for “exemplary deeds or services (performed) for his or her country or fellow citizens."

"Every wound North suffered was the possibility of another life saved in that establishment," Leingang wrote on the petition website,

The suspect in North’s killing is Jonathan Richard Pugh, 18, of Havelock. He was shot as he and North exchanged gunfire and faces an open count of murder.

If convicted of first degree murder, Pugh would receive life in prison or the death penalty. He is also facing additional charges in the shooting of the other victims.

North is survived by his wife, toddler son and a daughter.

Funeral services for North are scheduled at 2 p.m., Saturday, April 27 at the Cotten Funeral Home Chapel in New Bern, N.C

Donations may be made to Del Oro High School’s Memorial Scholarship in honor of Todd Asa North, 3301 Taylor Road, Loomis, CA, 95650.

A memorial for North will be held at 11 a.m., July 4 at St. Mary’s Chapel in Rocklin.