EAST GARDEN CITY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Graduation day was bittersweet for students at Hofstra University Sunday, as students carried heavy hearts for a classmate who was shot and killed in a violent home invasion.
As 1010 WINS’ Glenn Schuck reported, graduation ceremonies Sunday included the tossing of caps and gowns and hugs all around, but with tears all around and lots of love for Rebello and her family. Many wore white ribbons.
“Even the people who didn’t know her will definitely remember her. It was a tremendous loss to the entire community and this university,” said one English major. “We wish we could have done more, but it was just a tremendous shock.”
As WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reported, Ariel Adrian wore the white ribbon pinned to her new gown. She said she did not know Rebello either, but her death is having an impact on weekend events.
“My friends went to the vigil, and it’s very strong when you’re here – just the emotions, very strong,” Adrian said.
Hofstra University Stuart Rabinowitz reflected on the young woman’s tragic death, on Sunday.
“Our community’s collective grief, our community’s sorrow, over the senseless and tragic death of a very young member of the Hofstra family,” he said.
As CBS 2’s Janelle Burrell reported, the campus community has also learned some difficult news that the parents of victim Andrea Rebello, 21, found out she was killed not by a bullet fired by home invader Dalton Smith – who was also killed – but by a police officer’s service weapon.
“Points his gun at our police officer and at that point he fires the guns – eight rounds,” said Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata. “Seven of those rounds struck our subject. One of the rounds struck our victim.”
Smith was apparently making a motion indicating that he was going to fire on officers as he dragged Rebello out of the house in a headlock, according to authorities who described a tense situation.
“He kept saying ‘I’m going to kill her, and then he pointed the gun at the police officer’,” Azzata told CBS 2’s Cindy Hsu.
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.
When all was said and done, police said the Nassau County officer’s weapon was the only gun fired. Smith did not fire at all.
Rebello died of a gunshot wound to her head.
On this graduation day, Hofstra students said they were in disbelief about the popular student’s death.
“I’m not a police officer. I’m not trained what to do in that situation. I have no idea. I don’t know if it would have been right,” said student Hayley Kinn. “It’s awful that she’s gone.”
“I don’t really blame them if they truly thought that she was in a situation where she was going to die regardless,” said student Jordan Richmond.
The officer who fired the shots has not returned to work, CBS 2 reported. He is an eight-year veteran of the NYPD and has been with Nassau County police for the last 12 years.
Anthony Kourtessis, the father of another Hofstra student who was in the house during the invasion, offered words of thanks in the wake of tragedy.
“The police officer saved my son’s life and I owe a great deal of gratitude to the gentleman,” he said.
Funeral services for Rebello are planned for Wednesday in Westchester County. She will be buried in Sleepy Hollow.
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