(Gregorievna) is super special. She's just like an angel. She's just really sweet and endearing. I think I just kind of went into shock (when I heard what happened) because it was really surreal, it felt like a dream because it couldn't be real. —Dani King
PROVO — A shooting in a San Diego mall parking lot on Christmas Eve left one woman dead and a man in extremely critical condition, and it was being watched closely by friends and family members in Utah.
About 1:15 a.m. Tuesday, 22-year-old Ilona Gregorievna Flint and 22-year-old Salvatore Belvedere were shot in the parking lot of the Mission Valley Center Mall. Police say Flint called 911 before she died. She told dispatchers she didn't know exactly where she was, according to police.
Police found both victims in a car with Utah license plates. Both were shot in the head. The two were found outside a Macy's store that was staying open until 2 a.m. for Christmas shoppers.
As of Thursday, Salvatore’s brother, Gianni Belvedere, was still missing. Gianni Belvedere, who was Flint's boyfriend, was reportedly with the other two Monday night but has not been seen since.
According to friends, Flint and the Belvedere brothers all have ties to Utah County.
Fling and the Belvederes all met while attending the Walden School of Liberal Arts in Provo, said Dani King, 21, who was best friends with Flint and also attended with Walden.
"She's super special. She's just like an angel. She's just really sweet and endearing," King said Thursday, remembering her friend. "I think I just kind of went into shock (when I heard what happened) because it was really surreal, it felt like a dream because it couldn't be real."
The two started going to school together when King was 13. They attended the same school and hung out after school, and they also both worked at Rue 21 in Provo.
King said she and Flint were "connected at the hip" whenever she was in town. They loved just to talk, she said, either while driving in the mountains or over a cup of coffee or tea at Provo's Coffee Pod. King said Flint, who "focused on English" in school, also loved reading.
"She would read all the time, like read one book a day a lot of the time," she said.
Flint is survived by her four young siblings, whom she "loved with all of her heart," King said.
In about 2011, King said the Belvedere family moved to San Diego, and Flint went with them to be with Gianni.
She described Salvatore as "super sweet" and "really quiet," and a person who loved music and playing guitar.
King also considered Gianni one of her closest friends.
"He's really sweet, and he's really, really funny and super exuberant," she said. "He, like, really cared about you. When I'd meet up with them, they would ask me how I was doing and about my life, and he really cared, like he'd truly listen and he cared what I had to say to him."
King last communicated with her friend through text messages in November. At that time, they discussed dreams each was having.
The last time she saw Flint was in July when she went back to Utah to visit.
"I think she touched a lot of people's lives because she was really caring," King said.