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Probe into teenager’s death continues

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Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis announced that investigators continue to work around the clock to investigate circumstances surrounding a shooting that claimed the life of a Hernando High School student and left another victim injured. Meanwhile, he advised members of the general public against circulating rumors about the incident or taking the law into their own hands.

“We are talking about a 17-year-old victim, and it’s very easy for passions to run high,” Nienhuis said during a Feb. 14 press conference. “We’re working very hard…  we want to bring the people to justice who committed this terrible crime as much as anybody else, but please don’t take the law into your own hands.”

Around 11:30 p.m. on Feb. 7, deputies from the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office (HCSO) responded to a call about a double shooting in the area of Hazel Avenue and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard in South Brooksville.

At the scene, they found two individuals who had sustained gunshot wounds. Both were taken to an area hospital for treatment.

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On Feb. 8, the HCSO announced that Hernando High School student Isabella Angelina Scavelli had died from the wounds she sustained in the incident.

During his press conference, Nienhuis said that the other victim had been released from the hospital and is doing well.

Meanwhile, he said that detectives and personnel from the entire HCSO are working on solving the case.

“My detectives have been working pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week, doing a tremendous amount of interviews, probably upwards of 75 to 80 interviews and a tremendous amount to search warrants and subpoenas and so forth,” he said. “The workload is tremendous, but we know a tremendous amount more than we did when the call first came in –  we’re making some serious progress.”

Part of that work has involved chasing down inaccurate rumors that have been circulated on social media.

“We’ve all played the telephone game, and sometimes those rumors get exaggerated, and then they come to us, and they become leads, and sometimes they are vastly incorrect,” Nienhuis said. “If anybody has any information, we would appreciate it if they would contact us directly, don’t put the rumors on social media.”

The Sheriff also warned members of the public against taking individual action against anyone they suspect may be involved in the shootings.

“We want to make sure that people don’t ever attempt to take the law into their own hands for the simple reason that oftentimes the information that is out there isn’t correct,” he said. “We certainly don’t want additional victims, particularly if a particular individual may not have had anything to do with the crime –that’s what our job is (to investigate), and that’s why these things can’t be done overnight.”

Finally, he advised members of the public to be mindful of the people with whom they associate in order to avoid being victimized by those who are engaged in what he called a “high-risk” lifestyle.

“I think I can go on record as saying that this particular victim was not engaged in a high-risk lifestyle – she is a true victim in this case,” he said about Scavelli. “The bottom line is to make sure the people you interact with are not living a high-risk lifestyle, and your chances of being a victim are very slim.”

As the investigation into the double shooting continues, Nienhuis said he would provide more information when he can.

“As soon as we have something specific that the detectives will allow me to release, we’ll be able to do that,” he said.

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