Arrest made in Christmas Eve triple murder; family relieved

A family member expressed relief after police in San Diego arrested a suspect in a triple slaying on Christmas Eve last year.

"We're holding up," Antoinette Belvedere said. "It was a relief to get this information that somebody has been caught."


She said the family wants to express "deep appreciation and thanks" for the work done by the San Diego Police Department. She said the family was not given any information about a possible motive or the background of the man arrested.

The 29-year-old suspect was arrested on suspicion of killing two brothers and the fiancee of one of the brothers, police said Saturday.

Ilona Flint, 22, and Salvatore Belvedere, also 22, were found shot to death Dec. 24. They were in a car in the parking lot of a Mission Valley shopping center.

Gianni Belvedere, 24, was found Jan. 17 in the trunk of his parked car in a lot outside a shopping center in Riverside. He was Flint's fiance. He had been shot.

Lt. Mike Hastings of the police homicide squad said Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29, was arrested Friday night in the Mira Mesa neighborhood of San Diego and later booked into county jail on three counts of first-degree murder.

Hastings released no further details but said Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman will hold a news conference Monday.

From the beginning of the case, police have sought information about an unnamed "person of interest" who may have been in the San Diego parking lot after midnight on Dec. 24 and witnessed the shooting of Flint and Salvatore Belvedere.

A reward of $10,000 had been offered for information leading to an arrest.