Police in Washington state are searching for two young suspects who beat a World War II veteran to death in a parking lot Wednesday night.
The Spokane Police Department says in a press release officers responded to reports of an assault and found the victim in his car with serious head injuries. He later died in the hospital.
Authorities on Thursday released surveillance photos of the two suspects, who they describe as African-American males between the ages of 16 and 19.
Friends identified the victim as Delbert Belton, and say he was sitting outside a lodge for the Fraternal Order of the Eagles when he was attacked.
KXLY-TV reports that Belton served in Army during World War II and was shot in the leg during the Battle for Okinawa.
The station says he 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.
"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," Spokane Police Major Crimes Detective Lieutenant Mark Griffiths told the station.
Ted Denison told the station he was a friend of Belton's for 23 years and cannot comprehend how someone could have carried out such an attack.
"He was always there for me when I needed him," Denison said. "We'd joke back and forth. We were always having fun, some sort of fun."
"I don't understand how somebody could do this. I really don't," he told the station.
The Spokane Police Department is asking anyone with information to call their hotline at 456-2233.