Sitting on the deck at Carolina Ale House, Bill Paugh said he wasn’t surprised so many people had come out Tuesday night to celebrate the life of his brother, Richmond County Deputy James “J.D.” Paugh, who was killed in the line of duty a year ago.
“This community has become part of our family,” said the Raleigh, N.C., resident. “It has helped us grieve.”
Bikes lined the parking lot as hundreds celebrated the life of the 47-year-old motorcycle squad deputy who was shot to death on Bobby Jones Expressway while traveling home from an assignment.
The restaurant dedicated its police parking spot to Paugh, marked by a plaque with his number on it, T-31. It was left empty for the event.
“It only took three days for this story to become bigger than my family,” said Robert Paugh, another of the deputy’s brothers. “J.D. was family for a lot of people.”
At the memorial, Paugh’s mother, Anita Paugh, released a bundle of 30 blue balloons and one white one to an uproar of applause from the deck.
A slideshow put together by Robert Paugh displayed pictures of J.D. from a boy through his adult life. Anita Paugh said she was told to watch it before the memorial in order to be prepared.
The bar distributed “T-31” shots at the memorial, a mixture of Crown Royal and Mountain Dew that Paugh drank.
Cpl. William McCarty, who worked with Paugh on the motorcycle squad for nine years, said a group of deputies went to the recently named Deputy J.D. Paugh interchange at Bobby Jones and Gordon Highway at 1:20 a.m. Tuesday, the time he was gunned down.
“We talked about him, told stories,” he said. “We also talked about how anything can happen on those routine calls. You never know what you are getting into.”
McCarty thinks the memorial will be the last one for a while. The next year will not see as many fundraisers and events. He said he hopes everyone still gets together at least once a year.
“It’s important to never forget,” he said. “J.D. wouldn’t have.”