HEMPSTEAD, NY: Andrea Rebello, a 21-year-old public relations major at Hofstra University, died on Friday during a shootout between a police officer and a home intruder who held her at gunpoint.
The Hofstra junior was killed by a Nassau County police officer when he shot at a masked gunman in an attempt to save Rebello. A bullet struck Rebello in the head, while the 30-year-old intruder, Dalton Smith, was shot seven times and also died, according to media reports.
During Hofstra's Sunday graduation ceremony, many students wore white ribbons on their gowns in memory of Rebello. University president Stuart Rabinowitz made remarks about the community's “sorrow over the senseless and tragic death of a very young member of the Hofstra family.”
“The public relations faculty at Hofstra has always considered each of our students one of ‘our kids,' and we hold them all tightly in our hearts, sharing joys, triumphs, and challenges,” said Ellen Frisina, associate professor in the journalism, media studies, and PR department in Hofstra's school of communications, via email. “[Rebello] made a strong, positive impression as she moved through the curriculum and blossomed as a public relations professional-to-be.”
Rebello's identical twin sister, Jessica, was in the house during the shooting, but was unharmed, according to reports. She also attends Hofstra.
The officer who fired the shots worked for the New York Police Department for eight years and has been with the Nassau County Police for 12 years. The police department has not identified the officer, who is on sick leave. An internal investigation will be conducted by the Nassau County Police Department.
Nassau County Detective Vincent Garcia told PRWeek that the shooting is being investigated and will also be looked at by the district attorney's office.
“Any tactical information or field operations as to how the police department operates in the field is not public record,” he added. “We can't make that public because then criminals will realize how we react to certain situations, so that's not something that's public record, and never has been and never will be.”
Following the incident, Hofstra sent students and staff an alert via text message, according to USAToday.