A teenage boy is under arrest and another suspect remains at large in the fatal beating of an 88-year-old World War II veteran outside a lounge in Spokane, Wash., police said Friday.
According to officials, calls came in to police shortly after 8 p.m. Wednesday, with witnesses reporting an assault outside Eagle’s Lodge, a popular gathering spot for local residents that offers bingo, poker and pool.
Arriving officers found Delbert Belton there, inside his car, with serious head injuries. He was transported to a local hospital, where he died, police said.
“It does appear random,” Spokane police detective Lt. Mark Griffiths told Spokane-based KXLY, adding that there’s no evidence that the suspects previously knew Belton.
Spokane police had released images of both alleged suspects obtained from surveillance footage taken from local businesses.
The teenager was taken into custody around 10 p.m. Thursday, police said. A probable cause affidavit has been filed with the Spokane County juvenile court requesting charges of first-degree murder and first-degree robbery, court officials said.
The teenager has a lengthy criminal history, including a 2012 conviction for fourth-degree assault, obstructing a police officer and misdemeanor rioting, according to juvenile court officials. News reports have named him, but Los Angeles Times policy is not to identify juveniles accused of crimes unless they are being tried as adults.
Police were still searching for the second suspect. No details about a possible motive have been released.
The killing has stunned friends and family and sent shock waves through the city of Spokane.
Barbara Belton described her father-in-law’s death as “horrendous” and decried the possible motives of the killers, adding that the widower would not carry more than $150 in his wallet.
"Who beats an 88-year-old man in the face?" she told NBC News.
Friends knew Belton as "Shorty," and told KXLY that he served in the U.S. Army during World War II and was wounded by gunfire in the Battle of Okinawa. After completing his military service, Belton worked at an aluminum plant for more than 30 years.
A makeshift memorial for Belton has been set up outside Eagles Lodge, with flowers, candles and military insignia.
“People keep coming during the day, and laying more stuff,” said Roger Chinn, 52, a janitor at the Eagles Lodge reached by phone early Friday. “We’ve already had four or five people today.”
A candlelight vigil will be held at 8:30 p.m. Friday at the Eagles Ice-A-Rena in Spokane, adjacent to the Eagle’s Lodge where Belton was killed.