Spokane police seek suspects in fatal beating of WWII veteran

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by KREM.com

KING5.com

Posted on August 22, 2013 at 5:59 PM

Updated Thursday, Aug 22 at 6:43 PM

SPOKANE, Wash. -- New security photos were released by officials showing the two suspects in Wednesday's deadly beating of an 88-year-old World War II Veteran.

Witnesses described the suspects as 16 to 18-year-old African American males of average build, according to authorities.

The 88-year-old victim, Delbert "Shorty" Belton, had been taken to the Intensive Care Unit after the assault at the Eagles Ice-A-Rena at Francis near Lidgerwood around 8:15 p.m. on Wednesday. Officials said they found him with serious head injuries. He died Thursday morning at a local hospital.

"He was an Army veteran," said Glenn Longsdorff, Belton's roommate of four years. "In fact, he was shot when he was 18 years old on the beaches of Okinawa."

"He's one hell of a guy," said Ted Denison, a friend of Belton. "He'll do anything in the world for anybody."

Investigators said Belton was attacked in the parking lot behind the arena, belonging to the Fraternal Order of Eagles. He had just arrived in his car to play pool with a female friend. A witness said she saw two young men run away from Belton's car. She found him by his vehicle badly beaten.

"Those people to me are cowards," said Denison. "They are cowards when they beat old people that are defenseless.... They need to be caught. Period. Because that's senseless. Beating an old man, what kind of person does that? But a wimp to me."

The Eagles Ice-A-Rena released a statement on Thursday which said in full:

"We are deeply saddened by the events that occurred last night. Our thoughts and prayers are with the victim's family and friends. Our hearts go out to everyone touched by this tragedy.

"We are cooperating with law enforcement during their investigation of this incident. Because this is an on-going investigation we are unable to make any further comment.

"Any further questions should be directed to the Spokane Police Department.

"Thank you."

Officials said they were reviewing video in an attempt to identify the suspects.

A friend of the victim said Belton was robbed. Police, however, had not said if robbery was involved or what may have led to the assault.

Major Crimes is investigating and are asking anybody with information to please call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.

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