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Published:August 23rd, 2013 08:33 EST
Why Was Delbert 'Shorty' Belton Beaten to Death By Teenagers in the Eagles Lodge Parking Lot?

Why Was Delbert 'Shorty' Belton Beaten to Death By Teenagers in the Eagles Lodge Parking Lot?

By John G. Kays

Why was 88-year-old Delbert Shorty Belton, a WWII veteran of Okinawa, beaten to death by teens in the parking lot of the Eagles Lodge, in Spokane, Washington? Did the teenage suspects know Delbert, had they ever met him, or was it totally random, possibly just for the thrill of it? The very young suspects are African-Americans; could there possibly be a racial angle to the brutal beating? Or has robbery been completely eliminated as a conceivable motive?

Your best coverage on this troubling story is coming from The Spokesman-Review (Police seek teens in death of World War II veteran by Kaitlin Gillespie); at first glance, this looks like a local crime beat story for the Spokane, Washington area, but assumes a wider scope when we realize that Belton, who was shot in the leg at Okinawa, survived some of the fiercest fighting known from WWII. The worst part of this, is that Delbert was very much loved by so many people.

Many people are still reeling from the senseless killing of an Australian baseball player, Christopher Lane, by 3 bored teens in Duncan, Oklahoma. One can`t help but notice some similarities between the two cases; yet, until the two teens are apprehended, we won`t know for sure why they did it. What was the source of so much pent up rage inside them? I wouldn`t say, the two surveillance camera images of the suspects, decked out in black and grey designers clothes, are all that clear.

The images are, however, clear enough to make a positive identification by family members or friends, if they care to turn in the boys` identities to the police. I believe the pictures are clear enough, that the punks will be arrested quickly, without any further incident. While I didn`t really have much of a chance to scrutinize the Christopher Lane thrill kill shooting too closely, the first connection I made, when reviewing Delbert Belton`s case, is to the punk Alex from Anthony Burgess` A Clockwork Orange.  

Without getting too deeply into where Burgess was getting his model for a future society gone mad, raising young people without any moral scruples, this is exactly what I`m seeing in these two most recent cases. We`ll let it rest there, since the analogy doesn`t necessarily have long legs. The only thing I`d suggest, both with the scene in Spokane and the one in Duncan, is that like Alex and his band of Droogs, we have idle teenagers wandering about, looking for trouble (I meant violence, actually).

The irony (and the tragedy) to Delbert Belton`s death, is that he had already survived as many hardships as life could possibly offer him. He survived the terrific fighting with the Japanese in the Pacific Theater (68 years ago), as well as having worked at Kaiser Aluminum`s Trentwood rolling mill for 33 years (1949-1982). Why were these two kids roaming through the Eagles Lodge parking lot in the first place? Delbert Belton didn`t deserve to die this way.