Family of triple murder suspect 'sorry' for pain and suffering o - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Family of triple murder suspect 'sorry' for pain and suffering of victims

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Carlo Gallopa Mercado Carlo Gallopa Mercado
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8/CNS) - The family of a triple murder suspect responded to his arrest with a statement Monday night. The full statement reads as follows:

"On behalf of Carlo Mercado, we would like the community to know how sorry we are for any pain the Flint and Belvedere families have suffered and are suffering.

We have only had limited contact with Carlo since his arrest and have not been made aware of any evidence against him.

We remain fully supportive of him and ask the public to respect our privacy during this difficult time.

...Family of Carlo Mercado."

Carlo Gallopa Mercado, 29, was behind bars Monday in connection with the shooting deaths of two brothers and a woman who was engaged to one of them, a crime that came to light when two of the victims were found mortally wounded in a parked car at Westfield Mission Valley shopping center last Christmas Eve.

Mercado was taken into custody Friday night in Mira Mesa on suspicion of three counts of first-degree murder, according to San Diego police.

Mercado's arrest came nearly six months after Ilona Flint and Salvatore Belvedere, both 22, were found fatally shot shortly before 1:30 a.m. Dec. 24 at the Camino del Rio North mall, which was open late for last-minute holiday shopping. Flint managed to call 911 shortly before she died at the scene. Belvedere died at a hospital two days later.

Gianni Belvedere, 24, was missing for several weeks following the shootings of his fiancee and brother. In mid-January, his body was found in the trunk of a car outside a fast-food restaurant in Riverside. He also had been shot in the head.

During a briefing Monday, Police Chief Shelly Zimmerman described the killings as a "tragedy felt by the entire San Diego community" and a devastating ordeal for the families of the victims.

Investigators found "substantial probable cause" linking Mercado to the slayings, homicide Lt. Mike Hastings said. He declined to elaborate and provided few additional details.

In response to a question about whether the suspect and victims knew each other or had any other prior connections, the lieutenant said, "I'm not sure there was any relation."

On Jan. 18, a day after the elder Belvedere brother's body was found, Mercado was stopped at a North County checkpoint, where officers confiscated two pistols, an assault weapon and a silencer.  Mercado was not immediately arrested, his attorney Michael Berg told CBS News 8.

He was ultimately charged with possession of an assault weapon and a silencer, manufacturing a large-capacity magazine and having a concealed weapon in the vehicle. He pleaded guilty on June 4 to a felony charge of possessing the silencer, and prosecutors dropped the remaining charges, court records show. Mercado's attorney confirmed law enforcement found two pistols, an assault rifle and a silencer in the car.

Mercado was transported to San Diego Central Jail following his arrest but had to be taken to UCSD Medical Center over the weekend. A law enforcement source told CBS News 8 that Mercado overdosed on Tylenol in jail and his stomach had to be pumped out at the hospital. Berg would not confirm the report.

There were conflicting accounts Monday morning as to Mercado's exact location, but late Monday afternoon a Sheriff's department spokesperson and attorney Berg confirmed Mercado remained hospitalized.

Mercado's attorney says his client worked for Target for eight years.

He is scheduled to be arraigned Wednesday afternoon in downtown court. Mercado is being held without bond.

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