A public vigil was held Wednesday for a 22-year-old Salvatore Belvedere who was fatally shot on Christmas Eve in a parking lot at a San Diego mall. Belvedere's family and friends also used the vigil as a way to raise awareness about his missing brother, Gianni, who was last seen on Dec. 23. NBC 7's Danya Bacchus reports.
A public vigil was held Wednesday for a 22-year-old man fatally shot on Christmas Eve in a parking lot at a San Diego mall.
Approximately 100 loved ones gathered at Crystal Pier in Pacific Beach at sunset to pay tribute to Salvatore Belvedere, who was killed in the early hours of Dec. 24 after being shot outside Westfield Mission Valley Mall. The family said Crystal Pier was one of Salvatore's favorite surfing spots.
The vigil also served as a way for people to pray for the safe return of Gianni Belvedere, 24, Salvatore’s older brother who has been missing since the deadly shooting.
"If you've seen the car, seen him, think you've seen him, please report it to Crime Stoppers, San Diego PD, to the news media, anybody," Gianni's uncle Paul Donato pleaded. "We need any clues we can get our hands on to bring him home to put a little closure to this whole nightmare that we're living right now."
The family has increased the reward for help finding Gianni from $1,000 to $10,000.
The vigil comes one day after Salvatore’s funeral, which Donato confirmed was held Tuesday morning.
Salvatore was shot in the head and torso around 1:15 a.m. on Christmas Eve. He sustained critical injuries and was hospitalized following the shooting, but succumbed to his wounds.
His death was confirmed Friday by the San Diego Police Department and the Belvedere family, who said Salvatore was an organ donor. A heart transplant was performed after his death, the family said.
At the time of the deadly shooting, Salvatore was accompanied by Gianni’s longtime girlfriend, Ilona Flint, 22.
Flint was shot in the head, but managed to call 911 to report the shooting and their location near Mission Valley Mall at around 1:15 a.m. that day.
Officers located the wounded duo inside a vehicle in the 1600-block of Camino Del Rio North in a parking lot just outside a Macy’s department store.
Flint was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter, while Salvatore was transported to a local trauma center where he remained in serious condition until his death.
Although one week has passed since the shooting, San Diego police have yet to name a suspect in the slayings of Flint and Salvatore. For now, police have only released a vague description of a possible shooting suspect described as a man wearing tan pants, between 5-foot-9 and 5-foot-11. A possible vehicle of interest in the case is a 2008 to 2011 dark gray Honda sedan.
Last week, officials said they had not determined a motive for the shooting, but said it does not appear the crime was tied to any sort of robbery.
On Wednesday, just hours before Salvatore's vigil, SDPD Lt. Mike Hastings said there were no new developments in the case.
Adding even more mystery to the tragic case is the unexplained disappearance of Gianni Belvedere.
The Belvedere family and SDPD investigators say Gianni has been missing since Dec. 23, and was last seen around 10 p.m. that night at his home in Tierrasanta.
He has not been heard from since, despite a public plea from members of the Flint and Belvedere families who begged for Gianni’s safe return on Thursday.
On Friday, the SDPD issued a missing person bulletin for Gianni describing him as an Italian-American man with brown hair and brown eyes. He’s 6 feet tall, 165 pounds and likely driving a four-door, dark green 2004 Toyota Camry XLE with the Utah license plate B154VZ.
The Belvedere family has said they’re not sure why Salvatore was with Gianni’s girlfriend at the mall at the time of the shooting. The family has said Gianni may have also been at the mall.
Last week, Flint’s friend Andre Briones told NBC 7 the Belvedere brothers would often take turns picking Flint up from work because she didn’t have a car. Briones said Flint had moved to San Diego several years ago after Gianni’s family moved to San Diego from Utah.
A neighbor in Tierrasanta told NBC 7 the Belvedere brothers lived together in a home on a quiet street and were always friendly. The neighbor said Flint also lived with the brothers.
Lt. Hastings said police have no reason to believe Gianni is back in Utah at this time.
On Dec. 28, a public vigil was held for Flint at La Jolla Shores. Loved ones shared stories about Flint and lit candles at the somber gathering. On Wednesday, a family friend confirmed that Flint's private funeral will be held in Utah, where she and the two brothers attended high school.
According to an obituary published in Utah’s “Deseret News” Thursday, private funeral services for Flint will be held Friday at 2 p.m. at the Oak Hills Stake Center in Provo, Utah. The obituary says Flint’s family has established a memorial fund for her. Donations to the Ilona Flint Memorial Fund can be made at any Wells Fargo bank branch.
Flint’s obituary says she was born in Naryan-Mar in Russia and came to the U.S. with her mother at the age of seven. Flint graduated in 2009 from the Walden High School of Liberal Arts in Provo. In 2012, she started taking college classes at Grossmont Community College in San Diego’s El Cajon area and became engaged to longtime boyfriend Gianni Belvedere.
The obituary goes on to say that Flint loved nature, music and playing the piano. She’s survived by many family members, including her mother, step-father and four younger siblings.