Nightly News   |  August 24, 2013

Cops hunt for second teen suspect in WWII vet’s death

Authorities believe two teens beat an elderly World War II veteran to death. One voluntarily surrendered, the other remains free. NBC's Michelle Franzen reports.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> now to spokane where folks are shaking their heads in disgust and sadness after the brutal killing this week of a man who served his country in world war ii , and was always there for his neighbors, too. as much as they tried to, there is just no making sense of what two teenaged boys would allegedly beat the elderly man, who was beloved by nearly everyone he met. nbc's michelle franzen has the story.

>> reporter: during his 88 years, friends and family say delbert "shorty" belton , always embraced life, whether as a world war ii veteran, family man, or friend.

>> any time i needed anything he was always there.

>> reporter: in spokane, washington, this past week, belton was robbed of his life in what police say was a brutal and random beating at the hands of two 16-year-olds.

>> they robbed him, they beat him and they killed him.

>> reporter: one of the teen suspects turned himself in thursday and is being charged as an adult with first-degree murder and robbery. the search is still on for the second suspect. friend natalie flom says belton was waiting for her outside the eagles lodge when he was attacked.

>> the reason he was in the car was because he was waiting for me, because he's a respectful gentleman.

>> reporter: at 18, belton was drafted. family and friends say he was injured in the battle for okinawa.

>> he's always helped people. he's fought for our country. there's no excuse for the way he died.

>> reporter: nephew alan hills remembers how belton helped him.

>> he wasn't just my great uncle. he was a great person.

>> reporter: a great person, hill says, who loved to restore old cars and gave him a car when he was unploitd.

>> it seems trivial but he really did save my life. he made it possible for me to lead a job, find work.

>> reporter: acts of kindness and bravery that defined belton 's life. friday night, a vigil was held in his honor and a makeshift memorial grows as this community mourns the loss of a hero. michelle franzen , nbc news, new york.