MINEOLA, N.Y. (TheBlaze/AP) — Authorities say a police officer’s bullet killed a New York college student during the response to a home invasion at an off-campus home.
Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said Saturday night that Andrea Rebello was killed by a police officer as she was being held in a headlock by a masked intruder.
Azzata says the police officer opened fire as Dalton Smith made a motion to fire at the officer early Friday morning.
Azzata says the officer fired eight shots, hitting Smith seven times and Rebello once in the head, killing her.
Earlier Saturday, police said Smith had an extensive criminal history dating back nearly 15 years and was wanted on a parole violation related to a first-degree robbery conviction.
Smith was identified using fingerprints just hours after funeral arrangement were made for Rebello, 21, a popular public relations major who was with her twin sister Jessica and several other students in an off-campus house at the time of the break-in. The other students were unharmed.
Smith, of Hempstead, Long Island, had been arrested for robbery in the first degree in 1999, promoting prison contraband in the second degree in 2000, robbery in the first degree in 2003, assault in the second degree in 2003 and robbery in the second degree in 2003, police said.
Azzata said in a statement that a warrant was issued for Smith on April 25 for absconding from parole.
The campus has been shaken by the incident.
“Today is the last day of finals and this should be a happy day on campus; but it’s not,” said Hofstra freshman Scott Aharoni of Great Neck, as he passed through the area rife with yellow crime-scene tape Friday. “It’s really sad.”
Rebello’s father, Fernando, was too distraught to discuss the incident in detail outside the family’s Tarrytown, N.Y., home Friday.
“It’s my daughter, my baby daughter,” he told the Journal News through tears. “She was so beautiful. I’m so confused.
“I don’t know what to do,” he said.
The Journal News reported that Wednesday’s funeral Mass for Rebello at Teresa of Avila Church in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., will be in Portuguese.
Hofstra’s commencement ceremonies will go on as planned on Sunday despite the tragedy. University spokeswoman Karla Schuster said she expects school President Stuart Rabinowitz to acknowledge the shooting in his remarks.
The two sisters, another woman and another man were inside the two-story rental house when the gunman, wearing a ski mask, forced his way in, according to Nassau County Inspector Kenneth Lack. The intruder allowed the third unidentified woman to leave, and she called 911.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press the woman called 911 from near an ATM. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Victoria Dehel, who lives four houses away, said she heard what sounded like fighting. At first she ignored it, figuring it was from rowdy students coming home from a bar.
Suddenly, “this girl was shrieking,” followed by loud bangs just seconds later.
“It didn’t sound good at all,” Dehel said. “I turned to my boyfriend and I said, `I think someone just got murdered.’ It was awful.”
Rebello and her sister were 2010 graduates of Sleepy Hollow High School, according to principal Carol Conklin-Spillane.
“They were smart happy beautiful young women,” Conklin-Spillane said. “I speak about them together because they were very much a matched pair. They were best friends by choice.”
Andrea Rebello quoted Benjamin Franklin and Bob Marley in a yearbook photo from the school.
“Believe some of what you hear and only half of what you see” was attributed to the founding father and “Love the life you live, live the life you love” was the citation for the reggae legend.
Chilling police radio clips from the crime scene start at 1:18 in this ABC7 TV news segment (other information in the report predates the news that Rebello was shot by police):
This is a breaking news story. Updates will be added.