UNIONDALE, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A Hofstra University student and an armed suspect were fatally shot during a break-in early Friday morning in Uniondale, police said.
The victim has been identified as 21-year-old college junior Andrea Rebello of Tarrytown, N.Y., police said.
As WCBS 880’s Sophia Hall reported, there was a definite sadness on campus Friday afternoon.
“She’s a very sweet girl. I used to see her around all the time, she’s very good friends with a couple of my other friends,” Rebello’s friend told Hall.
A private memorial was held on campus Friday evening for students and faculty. The shooting rocked the campus on what was the last day of finals.
“I heard the screams and then I looked outside and there’s police officers everywhere. And it was a girl screaming. It was the most horrifying scream I’ve heard in my entire life,” neighbor Victoria Dehel told CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “It was awful.”
“I heard screams and I told my boyfriend, I said ‘Frank, I think someone just got murdered by the way the scream was, that was so awful,'” Dehel added.
Students woke up to a campus alert, horrified to learn a classmate was killed.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s so sad and this happens all the time, that’s whats upsetting,” a Hofstra student told Gusoff.
“It’s supposed to be a sweet ending to a college year, now it’s a bitter ending,” Scott Aharoni, a Hofstra freshman, told Gusoff.
Rebello, her twin sister Jessica, a man and another woman were inside a house Rebello shared with her sorority sisters at 213 California Ave., when a gunman wearing a ski mask forced his way in around 2:28 a.m., Nassau County Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lack said.
Police arrived at the house 10 minutes after the suspect allowed one of the women to leave, possibly to go get cash. The woman then called 911, Lack said.
“Shortly after our arrival, there was a police-involved shooting which takes place in the home,” Lack told reporters at a news conference Friday morning. “In that shooting, the suspect is killed and also one victim is killed.”
The police radio transmissions were released later Friday:
“There’s a gun pointed at them and there are hostages. He’s got the gun pointed at their heads,” a dispatcher is heard saying.
“I have an ambulance coming,” another voice said.
“We have a subject down,” an official can be heard saying on the transmissions.
Chief of Detectives Rick Capece said a gun was recovered inside the home, but offered no details on exactly who fired the fatal shots and how many shots were fired.
“We are getting to the bottom of exactly what happened,” he said. “We owe it to the family.”
Forensics are being used to determine who shot the victim and who shot the suspect, Hall reported.
The identity of the armed suspect was not immediately announced.
A moment of silence was held on campus during an honors convocation ceremony, Gusoff reported.
“A young member of the Hofstra family has been taken from us in a senseless act of violence,” Melissa Connolly with Hofstra said.
The victim’s parents arrived at the Medical Examiner’s Office from their Tarrytown home Friday afternoon to identify Andrea’s body.
Graduation will go on as scheduled on Sunday.
At Sleepy Hollow High School, where Rebello and her twin sister attended, teachers had tears in their eyes, 1010 WINS’ Al Jones reported.
The girls graduated from the school three years ago.
“Nothing prepares you for this, nothing. As a mother, it shakes me. As a teacher, as a principal. It’s just inconceivable,” principal Carol Conklin-Spillane told Jones. “They were just all-around great kids and they were pursuing their dreams and their family’s dreams for them.”
“I can’t even begin to imagine. These two girls were twins, and friends by choice. And they were always together and happily so,” Conklin-Spillane added.
Andrea’s father told a local newspaper, “My baby, she was so beautiful. I’m so confused I don’t know what to do.”
The girls’ across-the-street neighbor, Harris Bank, said the news of Andrea Rebello’s death rocked the neighborhood like a bomb.
“I saw cars earlier this morning, I couldn’t visualize that would happen. I thought maybe it was a break-in in their house,” Bank told Jones.
“Not only are we impressed with them, but particularly with their dedication to their children, they’ve done a lot for them,” neighbor Jack Phelan told CBS 2’s Tony Aiello.
Police said robbery appears to be the motive for the home invasion.
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Neighbors said they heard cries for help.
“We often see public safety drive around, they often pick us up if we call them if we feel endangered,” one student told WCBS 880 Long Island Bureau Chief Mike Xirinachs. “Just to know that something could happen — it’s terrifying.”
Capece said police obtained a search warrant for the house, which is next to the university campus. Streets were sealed off. An elementary school across the street was closed.
Rebello was a junior at the school. Her twin sister, who was inside the house at the time of the break-in, was not hurt and is currently with family, police said.
“They were inseparable, almost inseparable,” the victim’s friend, Raaed Junaid, said of the sisters. “You couldn’t tell them apart, unless you knew them for a while.”
The third woman and the man who were inside the home were also students, police said. Police offered no details about the suspect.
Dehel said the house is a rental used by a sorority.
“It’s a sorority house,” she told 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera. “I know that is in particular one of the sorority houses on the street and there’s plenty of them.”
Hofstra officials would not confirm that the house was used by a sorority. University officials told Rivera there is no official campus housing for Greek life, but that sororities do exist and rent houses near campus.
Hofstra University President Stuart Rabinowitz issued a statement saying police had notified the school early Friday morning about the shooting.
“What we do know is that a young member of the Hofstra family has been taken from us in a senseless act of violence,” Rabinowitz said. “Our hearts and minds and our thoughts and prayers are with her family, her friends and her classmates.”
The university sent a text alert to notify students and staff about the incident.
“While our hearts are laden with grief, this weekend’s commencement ceremonies will go on as scheduled,” Rabinowitz said. “The accomplishments of our graduates must be recognized, and together our community will heal and find the strength to move forward.”
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