Monday, November 20, 2017
Public safety

Names of suspected shooters released in two Hernando cases

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The Hernando County Sheriff's Office on Tuesday released the names of two men they suspect of fatally shooting two others in unrelated incidents last week.

Neither man has been charged.

Detectives believe Christopher Asciolla, 28, shot Michael Alexander Challis during an argument early Thursday at 6991 Pinehurst Drive in Spring Hill. Challis, 34, was taken to Regional Medical Center Bayonet Point in Hudson, where he died.

Asciolla has no criminal record in Florida, according to the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Property records list Robert J. Asciolla Sr. as the owner of the house where Challis was killed.

In Thursday's other incident, deputies said Joshua Harth, 24, fatally shot the man with whom he was living, George Avedissian, 68, during an argument inside Avedissian's home. The incident happened about 8:20 p.m. at 8743 Ostrom Way, just north of Weeki Wachee, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Harth also does not have a criminal record in the state, according to the FDLE.

In both cases, information has been slow to trickle out of the Sheriff's Office. Motives have not been released.

Detectives say they are actively investigating the cases, noting that the shootings are believed to be isolated. They say the public is not at risk.

Detectives have finished the bulk of their investigations and are tying up loose ends in each incident, said Sheriff Al Nienhuis.

"Both cases have somewhat unusual nuances, which will be released when the investigatory state of the case is closed and the appropriate disposition is assigned," Nienhuis said. "These nuances require careful and methodical collection, examination and comparison of the interviews and the physical evidence to ensure a proper, well documented and defendable decision is made, as to an appropriate response."

He said detectives have remained in regular contact with the families of the victims and with representatives of the State Attorney's Office.

Times researchers Carolyn Edds contributed to this report. Danny Valentine can be reached at dvalentine@tampabay.com or (352) 848-1432. On Twitter: @HernandoTimes.

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