Nearly six weeks after it took place, residents of the South Brooksville neighborhood where Isabella Scavelli was fatally shot continue to be frustrated by the lack of answers about the incident. In at least partial response to the incident, Mayor Blake Bell has established a task force charged with finding ways to boost security for the entire City.
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. On Feb. 8, the HCSO announced that Hernando High School student Isabella Angelina Scavelli had died from the wounds she sustained in the incident.
Scavelli was a 17-year-old student at Hernando High School who competed with the school’s tennis team and was active in Student Government there. Details regarding the second shooting victim have never been released by the HCSO.
During a Feb. 14 press conference, Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis announced that “detectives have been working pretty much 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and we’re making some serious progress” and “as soon as we have something specific that the detectives will allow me to release, we’ll be able to do that.”
In the meantime, neighborhood residents took to social media to post their reactions to the killing.
Now more than a month later, they are still wondering what happened that night, who was responsible, and whether they are still at risk because those involved in the shooting remain at large.
“People in South Brooksville are very scared,” said Brooksville Mayor Blake Bell. “People are even afraid to talk openly about it.”
Even so, little information connected to the case has come to the Hernando Sun.
On March 13, the Hernando Sun formally made a Public Records Request for the Isabella Scavelli Investigation Report from the HCSO as soon as the agency was able to release it.
In response to that request, HCSO Public Relations Manager Denise Moloney said the report could not be provided to us.
“As the investigation is still open/active, we cannot release the report at this time,” she said in an email. “I’m unable to hold on to this request to send the report when the case closes. Please feel free to check back in a few weeks.”
On March 14, we were told by a source with knowledge of the situation that on Feb. 8, just one day after the incident, the HCSO had apprehended three men suspected of being involved in the shooting.
We were told that one of the three had been arrested, released, and then retaken into HCSO custody.
However, HCSO public information officers tell us there have been no arrests for this crime, and investigators continue to work around the clock to bring justice to those responsible for Isabella’s murder.
At least partially in response to Isabella Scavelli’s killing and partly because Brooksville is currently undergoing rapid growth and the changes associated with it, Mayor Blake Bell said that the city has established the Brooksville Ad Hoc Committee on Safety and Crime.
Headed by retired HCSO Deputy Bill Pope, Isabella’s uncle and pastor at Encouraging Word Ministries church in Brooksville, the Committee will study everything from crime trends to traffic patterns around and learn how it might work with non-profit organizations and church groups to achieve that goal.
Pope was not available to discuss the Committee nor to discuss the circumstances surrounding his niece’s shooting.
“We have also reached out to (HCSO PIO) Denise Moloney, who said the HCSO would cooperate any way that it can,” Bell said.
In any case, the incident has been an eye-opener, Bell said.
”I feel that this (shooting) was an isolated incident, and thank God that it was; it definitely opened my eyes to making sure that the city has the safety it deserves,” he said. “We want the people of the entire city of Brooksville to feel safe – to have the safety and the protection they deserve.”
Bell said that the Committee was far too new to have any data to share with Brooksville residents yet.
In the meantime, the Hernando Sun will continue to cover the Committee’s progress and the Isabella Scavelli case if and when official investigation documents are released.
*This article was edited post-print publication to add HCSO comment that no arrests have been made for the murder of Isabella Scavelli. The comment was received after the print deadline.