SAN DIEGO – The suspect in three Christmas-season murders was moved from jail and into a hospital Sunday afternoon, according to an attorney.
Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29, was taken into custody at 10:30 p.m. Friday in the 8700 block of Westmore Road in Mira Mesa.
Mercado was booked at 7:24 a.m. Saturday on three counts of first degree murder in 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 Belvedere, 24, whose body was found in the trunk of a car in January.
By Sunday, Mercado was no longer listed on the San Diego Sheriff’s website as being in custody. His attorney, Michael Berg, told Fox5 that the suspect was moved to UCSD Medical Center Sunday afternoon, but would not disclose his medical condition.
“[Carlo Mercado] is a very quiet, soft spoken individual. He’s certainly shocked at the situation and his family is quite shocked too… [His family is] stressed out, obviously, and they are concerned but they are behind him 100 percent,” Berg said. “[Mercado] adamantly denies any involvement [of the triple murders] and the two of us are looking forward to seeing what evidence the pressing agency has against him,” Berg added.
Berg also spoke on Mercado’s criminal history. “He was arrested and charged with gun related violations, plead guilty to one of them, but hasn’t been sentenced yet.”
San Diego police remained tight-lipped Sunday about motives or other details surrounding the arrest of Mercado.
Chief of Police Shelly Zimmerman will hold a Monday morning news conference to discuss the arrest.
Mercado is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday, June 25th. His attorney says they will enter a not guilty plea.
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 slain 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 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 fiancée.