World War II veteran Delbert Belton, fondly known as"Shorty" in his town of Spokane, Washington, was viciously beaten and later died from massive head injuries following a seemingly random attack in a pool lounge parking lot this Wednesday. The 88-year-old Belton was waiting outside his frequent hangout spot, the Eagles Lodge, where he would play pool two to three times a week. This time, he was waiting to walk his friend Lillian Duncan home because “he didn’t want her to walk home alone,” when two young African American men brutally beat him and left him for dead.
This comes as a shock to many of Belton’s close friends, who knew him as a war hero who took a bullet in the leg during the Battle of Okinawa in WWII. After the beating, Belton did not survive past Thursday. After using search dogs, sweeping for fingerprints, and scouring through surveillance tapes, authorities were in luck when they found the two men caught on surveillance cameras. Police announced Friday that one of the juveniles has been arrested. He has since been charged with first-degree robbery and first-degree murder. Police are now continuing their search for the second of two teenagers, both of whom were described as black males aged 16-19, both wearing dark clothing and one wearing a do-rag.
Police have yet to confirm any motive besides a desire to perpetrate a genuinely random street beating. Spokane police Lt. Mark Griffiths told reporters, “It does appear random… It appears he was assaulted in the parking lot and there was no indication that he would have known these people prior to the assault." Shorty, a retired aluminum factory worker, reportedly had no prior problems, threats, or altercations outside the lodge before, and was generally well appreciated and loved by his community. This has been the second seemingly random teenage attack this week in the nation, following the death of 23-year-old Australian baseball player Chris Lane, who was gunned down in the town of Duncan, Oklahoma. The reasoning behind that shooting was quoted by a shooter as, “because we were bored and didn't have anything to do."
Outside the lodge on Thursday, Belton’s friends and even strangers in the community left flowers, flags, and messages for the now passed vet.