Tweets Target Officer Who Accidentally Shot, Killed Hofstra Student

MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Nassau County police have launched an investigation, after a series of threatening tweets targeting Officer Nikolas Budimlic – the officer who accidentally shot and killed a Hosftra University student while she was being held hostage last May.

The tweets appeared on Tuesday, sent by a “Johnny Smith” using Twitter handle @JohnnySmith2.

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They referenced the incident in which Andrea Rebello, 21, was shot and killed by a single bullet on May 17. The Tarrytown native was being held at gunpoint as a human shield at her off-campus house when the officer opened fire.

“I can’t conceptualize what I’d do if I shot a beautiful woman like that in cold blood to save my own ass. #NikolasBudimlic,” he wrote.

“I mean, seriously, not even a grand jury? Nothing? We’re just supposed to let this psychopath get away with murder because he’s a #Cop?” he wrote.

The tweets grew more hostile as they went on.

“Hopefully, #NikolasBudimlic gets taken hostage and one of his fellow officers charges in and fires 8 shots killing Budimlic #justice,” “Johnny Smith” wrote.

“I can only hope that this murderous, pathetic excuse for a ‘human being’ #NikoalsBudimlic suffers with guilt. I doubt it though,” he later wrote.

Nassau County police found out about the tweets and they were far from amused, 1010 WINS’ Mona Rivera reported.

“Someone called my office today and notified me that there were tweets out there of a threatening nature against my police officer who was involved in the Hofstra shooting,” said Nassau County Police Benevolent Association President James Carver.

The tweets qualified as legitimate threats, Carver said. Quoting the tweet referencing Budimlic being taken hostage and being killed, “to me, that’s a threat,” he said.

Carver said he wants the threat properly dealt with.

“I want the Police Department to take a look at this and see if this is of criminal nature, and if so, investigate this and get the identity of this subject,” he said.

Nassau County police Lt. Kenneth Lack said an investigation is now under way.

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“We take potential threats against our police officers and citizens very seriously,” he said. “This matter is being investigated.”

But “Johnny Smith,” who did not want his real named used, told 1010 WINS’ Rivera he was within his First Amendment rights.

“This is America. There’s a first amendment. I was afraid to make a twitter because of the police state we live in and this only validates that fear,” he wrote.

He argued that police should instead investigate the incident that left Rebello dead.

“The Nassau cops would be better served opening up a thorough investigation into this shooting that ideally leads to a grand jury investigation followed by a trial. I won’t hold my breath on that happening, but I pray that it does,” he said.

“Johnny Smith” said he would not comment on the issue again.

Rebello, her twin sister Jessica, a man and another woman were inside a house Rebello shared with her sorority sisters at 213 California Ave. in Uniondale when the parolee gunman wearing a ski mask forced his way in, police Lt. Lack said at the time.

Rebello and the intruder, Dalton Smith, died when the officer fired eight shots, hitting him seven times, with one bullet striking Rebello in the head, according to county homicide squad Lt. John Azzata.

With a gun pointed at her, Smith “kept saying, ‘I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” according to Azzata. The officer acted quickly, saying later that he believed his and Rebello’s life were in danger, according to authorities.

In August, Rebello’s family filed a lawsuit against Nassau County police.

Andrea Rebello (credit: CBS 2)

Andrea Rebello (credit: CBS 2)

According to court papers filed by the family’s lawyer, the suit alleges “wrongful death, civil rights and negligence actions against the County of Nassau and its police officers and possibly other defendants to be named after discovery,” reported Newsday.

Budimlic has been put on sick leave after the incident, but later returned to duty on a Department of Homeland Security Task Force, according to a published report.

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