SPOKANE, Washington — Police in Washington state have arrested one of two teens suspected of fatally beating an 88-year-old veteran of World War II who had survived the battle for Okinawa.
Police contend that two 16-year-old boys approached Delbert Belton in his car at random Wednesday night outside a lodge for the fraternal Eagles organization as he was waiting for a friend.
Belton was found by police with serious head injuries and died in the hospital Thursday.
Belton’s death has struck a chord around the U.S. and sparked outrage on social media.
“He fought for this country,” said Belton’s sister, Alberta Tosh, on Friday. “Then he comes home and a couple of creeps kill him in the worst way.”
Police Chief Frank Straub said there was no information that the attack was motivated by anything other than robbery. Police were offering no details about the crime itself, including what was taken, if anything.
Police say the arrested teen was being held on charges of robbery and first degree murder.
Straub identified the suspect still at large as 16-year-old Kenan D. Adams-Kinard. Even though he is a juvenile, his name and photo were released because he remains a danger to the community, Straub said. The Associated Press doesn’t usually name juvenile suspects, but is identifying the teen because of the manhunt.
Both of the suspects have juvenile court records and have past convictions for assault, Straub said.
Straub also offered his condolences to Belton’s family.
Belton was born and raised in Spokane and joined the Army during World War II. His sister said he was shot in the leg on Okinawa, site of one of the fiercest battles of the war in 1945.
“He was shell-shocked real bad,” Tosh, 78, said. “But it got better.”
After the war, he spent 33 years working for Kaiser Aluminum, before retiring in 1982.
In retirement, Belton loved to dance, play pool and repair old cars, family members said.
“He was very active and everybody liked him,” said niece Pam Hansen. “He’d never think about harming another person.”
Belton was called Shorty by his friends because he was little more than 5 feet (1.52 meters) tall, Hansen said.
She believes he was targeted by the assailants because of his age and size.
“He was defenseless,” Hansen said.