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The great nephew of a World War II veteran who was killed outside a lodge in Spokane, Wash., speaks out about his great uncle. KHQ’s Dylan Wohlenhaus reports.

By M. Alex Johnson and Tracy Connor, NBC News

A 16-year-old was arrested Friday in the robbery and beating death of an 88-year-old veteran who survived being wounded in World War II, Spokane, Wash., police said.

A second teen was still being sought in the murder of  Delbert “Shorty” Belton, a retired aluminum company worker who was brutally attacked in the parking lot of his lodge Wednesday night and died the following morning.

The suspects’ names were not released because of their age, police said. The teen in custody was charged with first-degree murder and first-degree robbery.

“I just hope they find the creeps,” Belton’s sister, Alberta Tosh, told NBC News on Friday just before the arrest was announced.

Police Lt. Mark Griffiths said the teens apparently attacked Belton at random.

“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,” Griffiths said at a news conference.

Spokane Police Department

Police released these surveillance camera photos Thursday of two young men believed to be the suspects in the beating death of Delbert Belton of Spokane, Wash. Click to enlarge the images.

As police released surveillance camera photos of the two young men, a makeshift memorial overflowing with flowers, U.S. flags and messages of sympathy sprouted Thursday outside the Eagles Lodge in North Spokane.

Friends and family remembered Belton as a warm, generous widower who helped many people over the years and was incredibly active for his age. 

“He was outstanding,” Tosh said. “He went dancing. He worked on cats all the time. He would help anyone who needed help.”

Friend Linda Herde told NBC station KHQ of Spokane that Belton “had a heart of gold>’

“There wasn’t a thing he wouldn’t do for anybody,” she added. “He’d give you the shirt off his back.”

Belton was waiting for a friend at the lodge because he didn’t want her to walk in alone, Lillian Duncan, a longtime friend, told the Spokesman-Review of Spokane.

“He was so awesome,” Duncan told the newspaper. “Anybody that didn’t get to know him missed out on a wonderful angel in their life.”

Many others told similar stories.

“If it wouldn’t have been for him, I wouldn’t have been able to get my life straight,” Belton’s great-nephew Allen Hills told KHQ.

Hills said he had hit bottom about 10 years ago in California, where he was unemployed and sleeping on his mother’s sofa. That’s when his great-uncle stepped in with the offer of a car and a new life in Washington state.

“It seems trivial, but he really did save my life,” Hills said. “He made it possible for me to get a job and find work.”

Ted Dennison, a friend, called Belton “a tough old bird” who was shot in the leg in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa. His experiences in the war didn’t appear to have dampened Belton’s instinct to help others, Denison said.

“He was always there any time I needed anything,” Denison told KHQ.

Belton died the same day another Spokane man was killed in a confrontation with police, a manifestation of what Hills said was the “senseless violence” plaguing the city of 210,000 in eastern Washington. 

“It’s too much, and it’s constant and never-ending,” said Hills, who said Belton was just the latest victim.

“He wasn’t just my great-uncle,” Hills said. “He was a great person, and he didn’t deserve to die like that.”

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