Arrest Made, Suspect In Custody For San Diego Christmas Eve Triple Killing

San Diego police confirmed Saturday that they have arrested a 29-year-old man in connection with the Christmas Eve triple killing that took place in 2013.

According to CBS 8, Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29, was booked by San Diego police at 7:24 a.m. Saturday for three counts of first degree murder. Mercado is accused of killing Ilona Flint and Salvatore Belvedere, both 22, outside the Macy’s Department Store in Mission Valley on Christmas Eve 2013.

Flint made a 911 call to report she was shot at Westfield Mission Valley, which was open late on Christmas Eve for last-minute holiday shoppers. She was pronounced dead at the scene of the shooting, with her fiance’s brother succumbing to his wounds at a hospital two days later.

Salvatore’s brother, who was Flint’s fiancee, 24-year-old Gianni Belvedere, was also reported missing. On January 17, 2014, his body was found inside a parked Toyota Camry with Utah license plates. The body was found in the car’s trunk in Riverside, outside of a nearby restaurant after reports of foul odors emanating from the vehicle were made.

It appears the three were together doing Christmas shopping when the triple homicide occurred. Police have confirmed that the cause of death for all three victims was by gunshot wounds to the head. The Christmas Eve triple killing gained national attention when the suspect remained at large for over six months.

NBC News reports that a short media briefing was held Saturday outside of the Belvedere family restaurant. Antoinette Belvedere, sister of Gianni and Salvatore, said the family received the news via a phone call from detectives Saturday morning. They were simply told that an arrest had been made in all three of the killings.

Antoinette says the family has no known ties to the suspect and did not know him.

“We ask that you please respect our privacy as we process this new information. Our families want to extend our deepest appreciation and thanks to the men and women of the San Diego Police Department. We’re holding up. You know, it’s a sense of relief to get this information that somebody’s been caught, and we just got the news, so we’re still processing everything.”

Though the family has a sense of relief from knowing the suspect is behind bars after six long months, they are still attempting to find answers as they do not know the motive behind the triple killing. Was it random or was their a reason the Belvedere brothers and Flint were viciously gunned down?

Prior to this arrest, the families of the three victims have tried to increase the reward for information on this sad Christmas Eve triple killing case. They hoped a higher reward would bring forward fresh new leads. The San Diego Crime Stoppers reward fund for this case increased to $10,000 earlier this year.

The family must now wait for police to determine an official motive in the case.

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