Police make arrest in connection with Christmas-season murders that rocked San Diego, Riverside counties

Published on June 22, 2014 by Editor

San Diego police remained tight-lipped today about motives or other details surrounding the arrest of a suspect in three Christmas-season murders that rocked San Diego and Riverside County, where one of the bodies was found.

Chief of Police Shelly Zimmerman will hold a news conference at 11:30 a.m. Monday to discuss the arrest of Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29. He was taken into custody at about 10:30 p.m. Friday in the 8700 block of Westmore Road, a suburban street on Mira Mesa, on San Diego’s north side..

Mercado was booked at 7:24 a.m. Saturday for three counts of first degree murder for the Christmas Eve killing of Ilona Flint and Salvatore Belvedere, both 22, as well as the killing of Salvatore’s brother and Flint’s fiance Gianni, 24, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in January in Riverside.

Police told survivors late Saturday the bare details of the arrest, and the family called a 5 p.m. news conference at a small Lakeside pizza parlor.

“Upon hearing [about the arrest] our family was overcome with emotion and relief at the same time,” said Antoinette Belvedere, the sister of the murdered brothers. “Our families want to extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to the men and women of the San Diego Police Department..”

“We don’t have any information yet about motive,” he said. “But there is a sense of relief that someone has been caught.”

Mercado’s arrest was made nearly six months after the Christmas Eve shooting of Flint and Salvatore Belvedere outside of a Macy’s Department store in Mission Valley. About 1:15 a.m. Dec. 24, Flint made a 911 call to report of having been shot at Westfield Mission Valley, which was open late for last-minute holiday shoppers.

She died at the scene of the shooting, and her fiance’s brother succumbed to his wounds at a hospital two days later.

Gianni Belvedere, who hadn’t been seen by family members since the shooting, was reported missing Dec. 26. Police issued a missing persons bulletin describing his vehicle as a dark green Toyota Camry with Utah license plates.

On Jan. 17 Gianni’s body was found outside of a fast-foot restaurant in Riverside inside the trunk of the Camry after witnesses reported smelling foul odors emanating from the vehicle.

Authorities later determined his cause of death to be gunshot wounds to the head, the same cause of death that befell his younger brother and his fiancee.

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