Arrest in holiday killings of 2 brothers, fiancee

RIVERSIDE, Calif. (AP) — A man has been arrested months after two young brothers and one sibling’s fiancee were found shot in the head in the parking lot of a San Diego shopping mall and the trunk of a car 90 miles away, police said Saturday.

All three died and were gunned down around the Christmas holiday, police said.

Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29, was arrested late Friday night and booked Saturday on suspicion of three counts of murder, police Lt. Mike Hastings said.

Salvadore Belvedere and Ilona Flint, both 22 years old, were found with gunshot wounds to the head in the parking lot of the Westfield Mission Valley mall in the early hours of Christmas Eve last year. She was declared dead at the scene, and he died a few days later at a hospital.

Belvedere’s 24-year-old brother, Gianni, who was Flint’s fiancé, disappeared around the same time. About 3 ½ weeks later and some 90 miles north in Riverside, a caller reported a bad smell coming from a car in a parking lot.

Police found Gianni Belvedere dead in the trunk. He had also been shot in the head.

The two men’s sister Antoinette Belvedere said at a brief news conference that detectives had come to the family home Saturday morning to tell them of the arrest. She said the family was relieved but still stunned.

“We’re holding up,” she said. “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.”

Police would not say what relationship, if any, the suspect had to the victims or release what evidence led his arrest. Police Chief Shelley Zimmerman planned to discuss the investigation and arrest at a Monday news conference.

Gallopa Mercado was being held without bail and was scheduled to be arraigned on Wednesday, county jail records show. Police and deputies reached by phone did not know if he had hired an attorney.

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