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Argument over dog led Tarpon Springs man to shoot and kill his father, police say

Police cars scatter the scene at Lonesome Pine Lane in Tarpon Springs, the alleged location where a son killed his father overnight. The home is to the left and roughly 25 yards off the road and is obscured, on a dead-end lakefront cul-de-sac. [Douglas Clifford, Times Staff Photographer]
Published Nov. 13, 2018

TARPON SPRINGS — A 25-year-old man shot and killed his father early Tuesday during an argument about the family dog, police said.

Evan Costello told 911 operators he shot James Costello, 68, at about 1 a.m. in their home at 1641 Lonesome Pine Lane, according to Tarpon Springs police. The son now faces a first-degree murder charge.

He told a 911 operator that the dispute started when his dog, a small mixed breed named Tetsuo, ate some of his father's medication and got sick. They took the dog, nicknamed "Tetch," to an animal hospital, the arrest report said, then drove home in silence.

At home, James Costello said something to his son that "enraged him," the younger Costello told police. He also told officers that, lately, he had thought about shooting anyone who angered him, according to the arrest report, he was just waiting for the opportunity.

Evan Costello told police he got his gun from the bathroom counter, walked to the doorway of his father's room and fired. James Costello stumbled backwards, the report said, and the son fired at his father again. Evan Costello then froze, he told police, before calling 911.

"I shot my dad," he told the operator, according to the recording.

Later in the call, he added: "My dog got really sick tonight, and he ate one of my dad's pills or something, and I just — I don't know. I just got upset. We were arguing."

Police said he waited in the driveway, unarmed, for officers to arrive. His father was found dead in a third-floor bedroom. There was no one else in the house at the time.

Evan Costello was booked into the Pinellas County jail, where he was being held without bail. He was placed on suicide watch, according to the Sheriff's Office, to ensure that he doesn't harm himself.

Court records show father and son had a physical confrontation in 2015. Tarpon Springs police arrested the elder Costello on a battery charge that year after he punched his son in the head, according to his arrest report. The charge was later reduced to disorderly conduct and he pleaded no contest to the charge.

Times senior news researcher Caryn Baird and staff writer Carl Lisciandrello contributed to this report. Contact Kathryn Varn at (727) 893-8913 or kvarn@tampabay.com.

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