During my year in Vietnam serving as a battalion surgeon in the 2/77 Artillery, letters from home to some of my fellow service members contained reports of a friend who had survived his year in the war only to be killed in an auto accident or other mishap. The deaths all were accidents—none were purposeful. Sadly, a World War II army vet who was shot in the leg during the Battle for Okinawa was brutally beaten to death on August 21 in a Seattle parking lot. One suspect, a young black male, has been arrested and the police are seeking another suspect who is described as an African-American male between the ages of 16 and 19. The Spokane Police Department is asking anyone with information to call their hotline at 456-2233.
In a press release, the Spokane Police Department noted that officers responded to reports of an assault Wednesday and found the victim, 88-year-old Delbert Belton, in his car with serious head injuries. He died Thursday in the hospital. Belton was identified by friends who said he was sitting outside a lodge for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles when he was attacked. “He was a tough old bird, I’ll tell you that,” Ted Denison, Belton’s friend for 23 years told the Spokesman-Review. The station noted that Belton went on to work for Kaiser Aluminum for 30 years. Friends say he was known as “Shorty,” and enjoyed playing pool and working on cars. His wife passed away several years ago. “He was just such a nice person for God’s sake. I don’t think Shorty had a mean bone in his body,” friend Betty told KXLY-TV.com.
“It does appear random. 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,” explained Spokane Police Major Crimes Detective Lieutenant Mark Griffiths. Belton’s daughter-in-law, Bobbie Belton, told CBS Seattle that the suspects used flashlights during the attack. She said, “The doctors said he was bleeding from all parts of his face.”
Denison told KXLY-TV that he cannot understand how someone could have carried out such an attack. He said, “I thought of him more as a dad than I did a friend really. He was always there for me when I needed him. We’d joke back and forth. We were always having fun, some sort of fun.” He added, “I don’t understand how somebody could do this. I really don’t.” Lillian Duncan told the Spokesman-Review, “Anybody that didn’t get to know him missed out on a wonderful angel in their life.”