Uniondale, LONG ISLAND (PIX11) — Two people are dead in a house across the street from the Hofstra University campus following a botched home invasion. One of the deceased is the victim of the crime, and the other was the home invader, according to police. Worse still, the victim may have been killed in front of her twin sister, and it’s not clear if the gunman took her life, or if she was killed in the police crossfire.
Outside of the house at 213 California Avenue, friends and sorority sisters of the victim, Andrea Rebello, 21, cried and hugged each other in the early morning light Friday, as word spread about the astonishing crime that left their loved one dead.
“All of a sudden, you just hear screams,” said Victoria Dehel, who lives four doors down from the home where the crime took place. “It was just awful.”
Dehel said she is a student at Hofstra University, just as the victim was. She said she heard what police later described officially. Around 2:20 a.m., a man wearing a black ski cap forced his way in at gunpoint into the home where at least three sorority sisters, including Andrea Rebello and her twin sister Jessica, were. Andrea’s boyfriend also lives in the home, apparently. All are Hofstra students.
The gunman, who cops said was not a student, sent one of the young women out of the home, quite possibly having ordered her to withdraw money from an ATM. Instead, the girl called 911. Less than ten minutes after the gunman had forced his way in, cops had surrounded the place and opened fire.
When it was over, Andrea Rebello was dead, and so was the home invader. What is not clear is whether he killed her or if she killed by the barrage of police bullets.
“At this time, it would be premature for me to say that,” said Nassau County Police Chief of Detectives Rick Capece. “We are doing a thorough investigation of the incident.”
A recorded broadcast of the police radio transmissions at the scene obtained by PIX11 News indicates that the gunman had his weapon at Rebello’s head at one point during the standoff.
No matter what happened exactly, one thing is certain. “This is awful,” neighbor Dehel said. “That’s scary.”
The home is across the street from the California Avenue Elementary School, which was closed for the day. The home is also about 50 paces from part of the Hofstra University campus.
Its president expressed deep condolences after a moment of silence at an honors graduates’ convocation Friday afternoon. “”We will always look back at this weekend with a sense of sadness,” said Hofstra President Stuart Rabinowitz. Despite the mourning, all of this weekend’s commencement activities will proceed as scheduled.
Not speaking on Friday, understandably, were Andrea Rebello’s parents. They were walked quietly by two detectives into the medical examiner’s office Friday afternoon to identify their daughter’s body.
On the way out, they’d asked for and received a ride in a police cruiser, separated from news cameras. However, they were visible through its windshields. The look of utter devastation on their faces provided a glimpse into the bottomless sorrow that very few could ever imagine.
Friday afternoon, Hofstra announced that it was making grief counselors available for students.
As of Friday evening, police still had not identified the alleged attacker.