Hofstra Student Andrea Rebello Killed During Home Break-in by Policeman

home break-in

Friday, about 2:15 a.m. there was a knock on the door of a home in Long Island, New York, which was shared by twin sisters.  One of the sisters looked to see who was there.  A man broke into the home.  There were four people in the home.  In addition to the sisters, there was another young woman, and a young man.  When police arrived, a gunfire ensued.  A man wearing a ski mask and brandishing a firearm was shot and killed.  During the gunfire, one of the twin sisters, a student at Hofstra University, was also killed.

Andrea Rebello, her twin sister, Jessica, and another young woman shared the home.  Andrea, a junior at Hofstra, which was just a few blocks away, was killed by a bullet fired from the policeman’s weapon.

Dalton Smith, 30, was trying to escape while pointing a gun at Andrea’s head.  An officer fired eight rounds from his revolver.  Seven shots hit Smith, but one bullet struck Andrea in the head.

Smith forced his way into the house, which was apparently unlocked.  He was looking for money.  The four, three women and a man, said they had very little  in the home.  He held the twin sisters and the young man while he sent the third young woman to an ATM machine to fetch cash.  The woman called 911 at 2:29 a.m., and police were dispatched to the residence.

When police arrived, Jessica was told by Smith, to go and tell the police that everything inside was all right.  She went to the door, ran outside, and told them that there was a man inside with a gun.

The two officers who had responded went up a narrow stairwell.  One of them saw a man in a ski mask, holding Andrea in a headlock, with a gun pointed at her.  He then fired the fatal shots, killing the perpetrator and the 21 year old woman.

Smith had been released on parole in February after serving time for first-degree robbery and has a lengthy criminal record that includes assault, police said. A warrant for his arrest was issued last month for parole violation.

Victoria Dehel, who lives four houses away, said she had just gotten home around 2 a.m. when she heard screaming.

“It sounded like a bunch of drunk college students on a Thursday night and then it just got very loud,” Ms. Dehel said. “I was with my boyfriend, and we were just listening,” she added. “And then the screaming just got worse and worse and worse. And then we heard thuds, like five bangs.

“Me and my boyfriend went on the porch to see what was going on. And we saw cops flying down the block.”

She heard what sounded like a woman pleading for her life. “It didn’t sound good at all,” Ms. Dehel said. “I turned to my boyfriend and I said, ‘I think someone just got murdered.’ It was awful.”

Students at Hofstra were informed Friday of what had happened to one of their own.  The University was in the midst of final exams.

Hofstra’s president, Stuart Rabinowitz, issued a statement later confirming that a student had been killed. “We do not yet know all of the relevant details,” he said. “What we do know is that a young member of the Hofstra family has been taken from us in a senseless act of violence. Our hearts and minds and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, her friends and her classmates.”

At the home of the twins’ parents in Tarrytown, near where the sisters grew up in Westchester County, a woman who said she was the godmother arrived Friday evening with another woman who was sobbing. “We can’t talk right now,” the godmother said when asked to comment. “There’s just no words.”

“They’re great kids,” she said. “It’s just too tragic to talk.”

Friends of the sisters flooded social media Web sites with condolences.

James Turnage

The Guardian Express

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