Vigil Held for Woman Killed in Mall Parking Lot Shooting

Ilona Flint, 22, was shot in the head on Christmas Eve in a parking lot outside Mission Valley Mall by an unknown suspect

Friends held a candlelight vigil Saturday at La Jolla Shores to pay tribute to a 22-year-old woman shot to death on Christmas Eve in a parking lot at a San Diego mall.

Loved ones gathered at around 6 p.m. for the public outdoor memorial for Ilona Flint, who was killed Tuesday around 1:15 a.m. in a parking lot near Westfield Mission Valley Mall.

Flint’s friend and former employer Andre Briones organized the vigil and set up an event page, which said the gathering was open to the public and would be a celebration of Flint’s life. The group was set to meet near Tower 32.

“We will be sharing stories and embracing one another and anyone who wishes to share a few words about our beautiful, amazing Ilona is more than welcome to,” the event page stated.

Briones said Flint’s mother and stepfather were expected to attend the vigil.

In an interview with NBC 7 earlier this week, Briones said he worked with Flint at a vintage shop he owned in La Jolla. He remembered Flint as a hard worker and kind, patient, loyal person loved by many.

Briones said Flint moved to San Diego a few years ago after her longtime boyfriend, Gianni Belvedere, moved from Utah to San Diego. Briones said Flint and Gianni had been dating for about eight years and planned to get married.

Flint was with her boyfriend’s brother, 22-year-old Salvatore Belvedere, during Tuesday’s fatal shooting. Salvatore was also shot and critically wounded. His death was confirmed by the San Diego Police Department and the Belvedere family on Friday.

Despite suffering a gunshot wound to the head, police said Flint was able to call 911 to report the shooting, telling emergency dispatchers that she was near Mission Valley Mall.

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. The store was open late to accommodate last-minute Christmas shoppers.

Flint was pronounced dead at the scene shortly thereafter.

San Diego police have yet to name a suspect in the shootings 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, according to police.

Earlier this week officials said they had not determined a motive for the slayings but said it does not appear the shooting was tied to any sort of robbery.

Adding even more mystery to the case is the unexplained disappearance of Flint’s boyfriend, Gianni Belvedere, 24.

The Belvedere family and SDPD investigators say Gianni has been missing since Monday, and was last seen around 10 p.m. that night at his home in Tierrasanta – several hours before the parking lot shooting.

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.

In an earlier interview, Briones told NBC 7 the Belvedere brothers would often take turns picking Flint up from work because she didn’t have a car.

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.

According to an obituary published in Utah’s “Deseret News” on Jan. 2, 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.

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