Zachary Leingang considers Todd North family.
"I’m a military brat," he said. "My parents are military, and it’s a family with all the active duty, retirees and spouses. It’s very tight-knit, especially in Havelock."
That’s why Leingang started an online petition to have North, a former Marine, recognized for bravery and for saving the lives of others during Sunday’s bar shooting at Flyers in Havelock.
"He stood up and took three bullets that could have hit other Marines or spouses or anyone else there," said Leingang, who works at Marine Corps Community Services at Cherry Point.
North was shot at the entrance to the bar and later died at CarolinaEast Medical Center.
Leingang said he hopes the petition will garner the attention of local and federal legislators and even President Barack Obama, with the goal of having North posthumously awarded for his bravery and heroism with the Presidential Citizens Medal, which Obama recently awarded to six educators killed in the Sandy Hook Elementary School mass shooting.
As of Tuesday afternoon, the petition had 1,935 signatures, including some from Florida, Texas, Wisconsin and Georgia. Leingang hoped to have 10,000 signatures by the end of the week.
"We’re getting about 100 an hour," he said.
The petition can be found online at https://www.change.org/petitions/todd-asa-north-president-to-honor-this-retired-marine-ssgt-s-sacrifice.
"I encountered Todd a few times, and he was just an outstanding person," Leingang said.
Meanwhile, an effort has started to raise money to support North’s wife and 2-year-old son. Flyers owner John Bruns said a collection is being taken at Bikes, Babes and Beer, located next to Flyers on Fontana Boulevard in Havelock. Those wishing to make donations can drop them off or call 444-4455.
Bruns said Flyers, which remained closed on Tuesday, would plan a party to honor North’s life while also raising money for his family. The exact date and location have not been set.
Funeral arrangements for North have not yet been announced.