A Hofstra University student being held in a headlock at gunpoint by an intruder was accidently shot and killed by a police officer who had responded to the home invasion at an off-campus home, police said Saturday.
Junior public relations major Andrea Rebello was shot once in the head early Friday morning by an officer who opened fire after the masked intruder pointed a gun at the officer while holding the 21-year-old student, Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said.
In a tense confrontation with the officer, gunman Dalton Smith “menaces our police officer, points his gun at the police officer,” Azzata said. The officer opened fire, killing Smith and his hostage.
Azzata said the Nassau County police officer fired eight shots at Smith, who police described as having an “extensive” criminal background. Smith was hit seven times and died. Rebello was shot once in the head.
“He kept saying, `I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” Azzata said.
A loaded 9 mm handgun with a serial number scratched off was found at the scene, police said.
Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale said he had traveled to Rebello’s Tarrytown, N.Y., home to explain to Rebello’s parents what happened.
“I felt obligated as a police commissioner and as a parent to inform them as soon as all the forensic results were completed,” Dale said.
The veteran police officer, who was not identified, has about 12 years of experience on the Nassau County police force and previously spent several years as a New York City police officer, Dale said.
The officer is currently out on sick leave. He will be the focus of an internal police investigation once the criminal investigation is completed, which is standard police procedure in any officer-involved shooting, the commissioner said.
Earlier Saturday, police announced that Smith, 30, had been wanted on a parole violation related to a first-degree robbery conviction and had an arrest history dating back nearly 15 years.
The shooting came just days before the school’s commencement ceremonies, which are scheduled to take place Sunday.
A university spokeswoman said students will be handed white ribbons to wear in memory of Rebello. The shooting, which took place just steps from campus, has cast a pall over the university community as it geared up for commencement on Sunday.
“Today is the last day of finals and this should be a happy day on campus; but it’s not,” Hofstra freshman Scott Aharoni of Great Neck, said Friday as he passed through the area rife with yellow crime-scene tape. “It’s really sad.”
Rebello was in the two-story home with her twin sister Jessica, a third woman and a man when Smith, wearing a ski mask, walked into the house through an open front door, Azzata said. Smith demanded valuables and was told they were upstairs, Azzata said.
Smith, apparently unsatisfied with the valuables upstairs, asked if any of the four had a bank account and could withdraw money, Azzata said. The intruder then allowed the unidentified woman to leave and collect money from an ATM, telling her she had only eight minutes to come back with cash before he killed one of her friends, Azzata said.
The woman left for the bank and called 911, according to Azzata.
Minutes later, two police officers arrived at the home and found Rebello’s twin sister Jessica running out of the front door and the male guest hiding behind a couch on the first floor, Azzata said.
One of the officers entered the home and encountered Smith holding onto Rebello in a headlock, coming down the stairs, Azzata said. Smith pulled Rebello closer and started moving backward toward a rear door of the house, pointing the gun at her head before eventually threatening the officer, Azzata said.
Rebello’s family declined comment Saturday.
The Rev. Osvaldo Franklin, who gave Rebello and her sister Jessica their first communions, on Saturday night told The Associated Press their mother, Nella, couldn’t even speak to him earlier in the day.
“She was so devastated,” said Franklin. “She’s just crying. We have to pray for Andrea, to pray for Jessica because she needs help.”
Franklin said a funeral is scheduled for Wednesday at Teresa of Avila Church in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., and will be in Portuguese.
“The family’s a very good family, they have very good values,” he said. “I gave them first communion to Andrea and Jessica and they started to help me in the mass for many years. They are a very good, very devoted family.”
Two young panthers are being tracked in northeast Florida after Hurricane Sandy knocked down the enclosure fence where they were being raised.
A statement from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says the juvenile panthers, outfitted with radio collars, are being tracked in Yulee in Nassau County. Both are out of their pen but have been located by wildlife officials and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service using telemetry to track the radio-collars on the panthers.
The cats have not traveled far from their pen. Officials are working diligently to return them to their enclosure.
The cats were captured when they were 5 months old in northern Collier County last September.
Scientists estimate that between 100 and 160 adult and sub-adult panthers live in South Florida.
As many as 100 teenagers required medical treatment and a man who landed a helicopter near the crowd was arrested as a rave event at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum descended into chaos, MyFoxNY.com reports.
The event, called Haunted Coliseum, was billed as an electronic dance music event.
It was supposed to feature Sebastian Ingrosso, Alesso and Otto Knows. It was shut down after only about an hour.
Nassau County police say they received several 911 calls for intoxicated youths at the event. While detectives and officers were at the scene investigating as many as 100 intoxicated youths between the ages of 14 and 18, a man attempted to land a Bell helicopter on a grassy area on the west side of the coliseum.
Police say the landing had to be aborted due to people walking in the area. They say the pilot, Michael Croissant, 44, then returned and landed on the grassy area, despite at least 20 people being in the area, according to MyFoxNY.com.
Police arrested Croissant and seized his helicopter.
Justin Bieber knows about bullies all to well and recently took the time out to record a PSA for anti-bullying for Nassau County, NY. The PSA appears to be part of his team's ruling for making an unplanned event at a local mall that wrecked havoc among …
See all stories on this topic »
Attorney Wendy Long has won a three-way Republican primary to take on Kirsten Gillibrand in this fall’s race for the U.S. Senate.
Long defeated Nassau County comptroller George Maragos and U.S. Rep. Bob Turner in a primary election Tuesday notable for low turnout. Long held a double-digit lead with more than half the precincts reporting statewide.
Long now faces an uphill battle against Democrat Gillibrand, a three-year incumbent who already has about $10 million in campaign cash.
This will be Gillibrand’s second campaign for the Senate since she was appointed in 2009 to replace Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She won election in 2010 to finish Clinton’s term that ends this year
This time, Gillibrand’s running for a full, six-year term.