An 88-year-old World War II veteran died
after being beaten in what police are calling a "random" attack outside an Eagles Lodge in Washington state, reportedly by two teenagers.
Delbert Belton, a former Marine and Purple Heart recipient who survived the Battle of Okinawa, was discovered unconscious and bleeding in his car outisde the Spokane lodge by his caregiver, who arrived moments after the beating took place and said he saw the two suspects fleeing the area, local NBC affiliate KHQ reported
The suspects, described by NBC News as "black males of average build
, 16 to 19 years old, wearing black clothing and red sneakers," allegedly attacked Belton as he arrived to play pool at the local pool hall. Belton was white.
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Known to his friends by the nickname "shorty," Belton succumbed to his injuries at Sacred Heart Medical Center Thursday morning.
K-9 units dispatched by police were able to pick up the suspect's scent, but were unable to locate them, KXLY reported
. Surveillance footage from a nearby store
appears to pick up the suspects as they enter the establishment.
"It does appear random," Spokane Police Major Crimes Detective Lieutenant Mark Griffiths told KXLY. "He was in the parking lot, 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."
Belton was shot in the leg during the Battle of Okinawa. He worked at the Kaiser Aluminum factory in Trentwood, Wash., for 30 years until he retired.
The WWII combat veteran, who lost his wife several years ago, reportedly loved playing pool and working on cars.
"He was always there for me when I needed him," Ted Denison, Belton's best friend of 23 years told KXLY. "We'd joke back and forth. We were always having fun, some sort of fun."
In the interview with the local news channel, Denison added that Belton was the kind of nice old man who'd become your friend in minutes.
"Probably every time I come into town, he'd have a project for me to do. I thought of him more as a dad than I did a friend really," Denison added. "I don't understand how somebody could do this. I really don't."
The incident comes days after an apparent thrill killing in Oklahoma in which two teens, 15-year-old James Edwards Jr. and 16-year-old Chancey Luna, have been charged with shooting and killing Christopher Lane, a baseball player from Australia who was out for a jog.
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Some have suggested Lane's death has racial overtones.
The teens reportedly carried out the murder just for the "fun of it," according to police
The teenage killers were then allegedly driven away from the crime scene by another teenager, 17-year-old Michael Jones.
Edwards and Luna have since been charged with first-degree murder and remain in custody, while their alleged accomplice, Jones, was charged with use of a vehicle in the discharge of a weapon and accessory to murder after the fact, Australia's ABC.net reported
Police mugshots accompanying the ABC story indicate that Edwards and Chancey are black and Jones is white. Lane was white.
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