SLEEPY HOLLOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork/AP) — Hundreds gathered Wednesday for a heartbreaking farewell to Andrea Rebello, the Hofstra University student who was shot and killed during a home invasion robbery last week.
As CBS 2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the village of Sleepy Hollow in Westchester County seemed to stand still, but for the slow approach of the funeral procession for Rebello. Residents were united in grief over an unthinkable loss, as hundreds poured into St. Teresa of Avila Church.
The 21-year-old with an ever-present smile was baptized at the church, attended religious school, and now was eulogized.
“It’s very, very sad; very heartbreaking,” said Sister Mary Clare, a religious school teacher.
Rebello’s twin sister, Jessica, was helped into the church in her father’s arms, emerging an hour later without words, but with tears. She was also inside the off-campus Hofstra University home when an armed robber barged in…but escaped moments before gunfire erupted.
Inside the church, Rebello’s family followed the pastor as he led her white cloth-draped coffin to the altar.
The Rev. Osvaldo Franklin, the main celebrant of the funeral Mass, said everyone in the church was wondering why Andrea was killed “in the flower of her youth.”
“Only the word of God — can help us in this time of pain,” Franklin said. “Andrea is an angel in heaven, praying for us.”
The funeral included a ceremony known as the four candles. Rebello’s godparents lit a candle symbolizing grief, an aunt and uncle lit one symbolizing courage, the friends lit one symbolizing memory and her twin sister, Jessica, who was in the Long Island house where Rebello was killed, lit one for love.
Half a dozen of Rebello’s sorority sisters from Hofstra spoke about her, some of them choking back tears. They described her as fearless and strong and remembered her as a fan of bike riding, tree climbing and going out to eat on Friday nights.