The 21-year-old Hofstra student who was killed during a Long Island home invasion was shot dead by a police officer as the gunman had her in a headlock and was trying to drag her out of the house, officials said Saturday.
Nassau County Police said at a news conference Andrea Rebello was killed by police, not by the armed gunman who was trying to rob the off-campus house where she was living with her twin sister, Jessica, and several others.
Rebello, a Hofstra junior studying public relations, and suspect Dalton Smith, 30, were both shot and killed as he was trying to back away from police with a gun to her head, police said.
An officer fired eight rounds, seven of which hit the suspect and one that hit Rebello in the head, police said.
Police said the officer that fired the fatal shots is a former NYPD cop who has been with the Nassau department for 12 years.
Police said Smith had gotten into the house through a front door that was left open. He forced three women and a man who lived in the home upstairs at gunpoint to get money and jewelry.
They did not have a lot of money at the home, and Smith told one of the women to go withdraw money from the bank, threatening that he would kill one of her friends if she didn't return in eight minutes, according to police.
She called 911 as she drove to the bank and did not return to the home.
Police responded shortly after the 911 call. When they arrived, Smith told one of the hostages, the twin sister of the woman who was later shot, to go downstairs and tell police everything was OK. When she opened the door, she ran out and told officers there was a man with a gun.
Police said two officers then entered the house and went up a narrow staircase. At that point, one of the officers saw Smith with Rebello in a headlock, and Smith pointed a gun at the officer.
The officer then fired the fatal shots, police said.
Smith was released on parole in February after serving time for first-degree robbery and has a lengthy criminal record that includes assault, police said. A warrant for his arrest was issued last month for parole violation.
Police identified the gunman through fingerprint analysis.
On Saturday evening, flags at the Hofstra campus were at half-staff and students held a silent outdoor vigil in front of a photo of Rebello. Surrounded by candles and flowers, they sang "Ave Maria."
She was also honored during Sunday's graduation ceremony with students wearing white ribbons.
Andrea Rebello and her sister were 2010 graduates of Sleepy Hollow High School, according to principal Carol Conklin-Spillane.
"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."
Rebello's funeral is scheduled for Wednesday in Sleepy Hollow