Friday, May 17, 2013

College student, masked gunman killed in New York break-in

UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) ? A junior at Hofstra University and an armed intruder were fatally shot during an overnight house break-in next to the campus, police said Friday. The woman's twin sister was also in the house at the time but was unharmed.

It wasn't clear who fired the fatal shots or how many rounds were fired, but authorities said police were involved in the shooting. The crime cast a pall over the university, which had been gearing up for commencement ceremonies this weekend.

Hofstra University identified the slain student as Andrea Rebello, 21, of Tarrytown, N.Y. Her sister, Jessica, was also in the house at the time of the break-in but was not injured, police said.

The two sisters, another woman and a man were inside the two-story rental house when the gunman, wearing a ski mask, forced his way in, according to Nassau County Deputy Inspector Kenneth Lack. The intruder allowed the third unidentified woman to leave, and she called 911.

A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that the woman called 911 from near an ATM. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.

Victoria Dehel, who lives four houses away, said she heard what sounded like fighting. At first she ignored it, figuring it was from rowdy students coming home from a bar.

Suddenly, "This girl was shrieking," followed by loud bangs just seconds later.

"It didn't sound good at all," Dehel said. "I turned to my boyfriend and I said, 'I think someone just got murdered.' It was awful."

A dozen police cars swooped in; some officers carried protective shields.

Dehel and her boyfriend started to go outside, but police yelled at them to go back into their house.

The university sent a text alert to notify students and staff.

On Friday morning, the California Avenue Elementary School across the street from the house was closed, and streets in the area were still sealed off.

"Today is the last day of finals and this should be a happy day on campus; but it's not," said Hofstra freshman Scott Aharoni, of Great Neck, as he passed through the area rife with yellow crime-scene tape. "It's really sad."

The school's graduation is Sunday.

"While our hearts are laden with grief, this weekend's commencement ceremonies will go on as scheduled," Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz said in a statement. "The accomplishments of our graduates must be recognized, and together our community will heal and find the strength to move forward."

Carol Conklin-Spillane, the principal at Sleepy Hollow High School, where the sisters graduated in 2010, described them as inseparable.

"They were smart happy beautiful young women," Conklin-Spillane said. "I speak about them together because they were very much a matched pair. They were best friends by choice."


Associated Press Writer Jim Fitzgerald in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., contributed to this report.


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