Hofstra student killed by police during home invasion

Andrea Rebello, a 21-year-old student at Hofstra University, in Hempstead, N.Y., died Friday when police fired on an intruder who had entered her home. The intruder was also killed by police.

Sleepy Hollow High School/AP
In this photo copied from the 2010 Sleepy Hollow High School yearbook, high school student Andrea Rebello is shown. Police said Rebello, a junior at Hofstra University in Hempstead, N.Y., was shot and killed Friday, during a break-in near the college campus.

In what police are describing as a crime of opportunity, a wanted man with a criminal history dating nearly 15 years entered a front door that had been left open at a New York home near Hofstra University.

A short time later, the intruder, Dalton Smith, and a 21-year-old college junior, Andrea Rebello, were both dead. The two were killed early Friday by a Nassau County police officer who fired eight shots at the masked man, hitting him seven times but also accidentally hitting Rebello once in the head, Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzata said Saturday.

Smith was holding Rebello in a headlock and pointing a gun at her head before he turned his gun at the officer, Azzata said, prompting the shooting.

"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.

The shooting came just days before the school's commencement ceremonies, which are scheduled for 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.

Earlier Saturday, police announced that Smith, 30, had been wanted on a parole violation related to a first-degree robbery conviction. A warrant was issued for Smith on April 25 for absconding from parole, police said.

Smith had what police described as "an extensive criminal history," which included arrests 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.

Rebello was in the two-story home in Uniondale, N.Y., 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.

The door was left open after someone had moved a car that was blocking a driveway, Azzata said.

When Smith entered, he 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.

The Rev. Osvaldo Franklin, who gave Rebello and her twin 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. "They are a very good, very devoted family."

Associated Press writer Jake Pearson in New York contributed to this report.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.