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San Diego Police Arrest Man In Christmas Eve Triple Homicide
Monday, June 23, 2014
A 29-year-old man was behind bars Monday in connection with the shooting deaths of two brothers and a woman engaged to one of them outside the Westfield Mission Valley Mall on Christmas Eve.
Carlo Gallopa Mercado, who was taken into custody in Mira Mesa Friday night on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder.
At a press conference Monday morning, San Diego Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman offered little detail about Mercado's arrest.
"This arrest came after investigators and forensic lab personnel developed substantial probable cause for Mercado’s arrest," Zimmerman said.
Mercado's arrest came nearly six months after Ilona Flint and Salvatore Belvedere, both 22, were found fatally shot in the mall parking lot early Dec. 24. Flint managed to call 911 shortly before she died. The younger Belvedere brother succumbed to his wounds at a hospital two days later.
Gianni Belvedere, 24, went missing following the shooting of his fiance and brother but was ultimately found dead in the trunk of a car in January outside of a fast-foot restaurant in Riverside.
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.
Just one day after the elder Belvedere brother's body was found, Mercado was stopped at a checkpoint near Camp Pendleton and law enforcement officers confiscated weapons and a silencer, U-T San Diego reported.
He was initially charged with possession of an assault weapon, possession of a silencer, manufacturing a large-capacity magazine and having a concealed weapon in the vehicle. But he pleaded guilty to a felony charge of possessing the silencer, and prosecutors dropped the remaining charges, U-T San Diego reported.
Mercado's attorney told the newspaper that he did not know of a connection between the weapons charges and the killings of Flint and the two brothers.
The case was submitted to the San Diego District Attorney's Office late Sunday afternoon.
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