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. Officials said they found him with serious head injuries. He died Thursday morning at a local hospital. A memorial was placed outside the lodge of the Fraternal Order of Eagles.
Belton's daughter-in-law was still in disbelief when she got the phone call.
"What are you talking about, beaten up?" said Bobbie Belton, the wife of Delbert's son. "I just never thought of him being in a situation where he would be beaten up."
Bobbie said that the accused attackers used weapons in the assault.
"They used those great big heavy flashlights. The doctors said he was bleeding from all parts of his face," Bobbie Belton said.
Bobbie's own husband is in the hospital suffering from an illness.
"The way he died," Bobbie continued, "You expect older people to die. But not that way. They shouldn't have beaten him up. That was a bad thing. You don't do those kind of things."
"He was old," said Belton's nephew Allen Hills. "He was ornery. He was just a great person. It was really hard for me to wrap around my brain. Why would you attack an 88-year-old man? I couldn't wrap around it as it was and then two hours later, I get a phone call from my mom telling me it was my great uncle."
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.
"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'll do anything in the world for anybody."
"He's one hell of a guy," said Ted Denison, a friend of Belton. "He'll do anything in the world for anybody.Those people to me are cowards. 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.
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.
"That...that was some bull[expletive]. That's senseless," said Hills.
Major Crimes is investigating and are asking anybody with information to please call Crime Check at 509-456-2233.