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Second suspect arrested in beating death of WWII veteran

Published: Monday, Aug. 26 2013 8:46 a.m. MDT

In this Aug. 22, 2013, photo, Lill Duncan takes a photo of a memorial for Delbert Belton, an 88-year-old World War II veteran who was beaten to death, in Spokane, Wash.

The Spokesman-Review, Tyler Tjomsland, Associated Press

SPOKANE, Wash. — Police arrested a second teenage suspect Friday in the fatal beating of an 88-year-old World War II veteran outside an Eagles Lodge in North Spokane.

The victim, Delbert Belton, was attacked and robbed in the lodge's parking lot last Wednesday night. One of the suspects, a 16-year-old boy, surrendered to authorities Thursday night, and he was being held on charges of robbery and first-degree murder. His identity has not been released because he is a juvenile.

The second suspect, also a 16-year-old boy, was arrested in a basement apartment in Spokane just after 3 a.m. Monday. His identity and photograph were released as police searched for him, but The Associated Press, which typically does not identify juveniles accused of crimes, is no longer using his name because he is in custody.

Several other people with him were arrested for investigation of rendering criminal assistance, Spokane police spokeswoman Monique Cotton said.

Investigators believe the boys targeted Belton randomly as he sat in his car and waited for a friend.

Officers found Belton with serious head injuries, and he died in the hospital Thursday.

Both teens have juvenile court records and past convictions for assault, Chief Frank Straub said last week.

Belton was born and raised in Spokane. He survived being shot in the leg in 1945 at Okinawa, one of the fiercest battles of the war, and went on to spend 33 years working for Kaiser Aluminum before retiring in 1982.

His death sparked outrage in the community.

"He was very active and everybody liked him," his niece, Pam Hansen, said last week. "He'd never think about harming another person."

Belton was called Shorty by his friends because he was little more than 5 feet tall, Hansen said.

She believes he was targeted because of his age and size.

"He was defenseless," Hansen said.

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