Hofstra student accidentally killed by police responding to a home invasion

andrea_rebelloI hate writing posts like this because they are sad and inflammatory, but I think they are too valuable of learning tools to let pass consistently.

The Story

Andrea Rebello, was a 21 year Junior at Hofstra on Long Island in New York. She was sitting at home Friday, May 17th, 2013 with her twin sister, a female friend and another male student when a masked man came through their open front door with a gun and demanded money and valuables.

Unhappy with what he got, the attacker sent the 3rd girl out to an ATM for cash and threatened to kill the others if she did not return.

While she was out the girl called 911 and police were dispatched immediately.

Upon arriving the officer was confronted by the felon who had Andrea in a headlock, with the gun pointed at her head. The twin sister running out the front door and the male friend hiding behind the couch.

The felon repeatedly stated, “I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer, who fired 8 shots, hitting the felon with 7 and striking Andrea in the head with the 8th.

As it turns out the criminal was 30 years old and had a rap sheet that went back 15 years and was using an illegal gun. However, that really doesn’t matter as it could have been a 1st crime with a legally obtained gun and the result would have been the same.

The Learning’s

It is amazing how many points of learning there are in those 8 sentences…

  1. While some 80% of homicides are felon on felon crime, they all aren’t. There is no reason to believe that Andrea wasn’t a good citizen that was happily living her life.
  2. At 21 years old, Andrea was old enough to have legally purchased a firearm anywhere in the country. Presumably she didn’t have one to use in her own defense.
  3. I say presumably because she is in New York, that recently rushed in some of the toughest gun control measures in the country. Tough gun laws that did nothing to protect her.
  4. I know there almost no Friday’s when I was in college where I wasn’t break at least 1 of the 4 S’s,  and certainly not the Friday before graduation (Don’t go stupid places or do stupid things, with stupid people, at stupid times). These 4 however were at Andrea’s home, proving your don’t get to choose when the balloon goes up.
  5. Unlocked doors are a bad idea.
  6. The victims had their attacker out numbered 4:1 and where moving through the house. One of them might have had an opportunity to get a staged gun, even if they didn’t have it on them.
  7. The local cops responded very quickly.
  8. The cops did a good job of identifying what was happening in a dynamic situation. Imagine seeing someone running out of a house as you are going towards a gun man.
  9. The officer fired the maximum legal number of rounds for a pistol in the state, against 1 felon.
  10. The officer hit is target 87.5% of the time, with a hostage! That is stellar especially in comparison to the suicide by cop in front of the Empire State Building.
  11. The officer missed 1 round that killed the hostage. As an officer he will likely not face any criminal or legal action.  You can bet you would have though.
  12. As a result the officer has to live with the fact that HE KILLED THE VICTIM THAT HE TRIED TO SAVE, the parents lost a child. the twin lost her sister, and the male friend has to live with the fact that she died while he hid.

What could have been done differently?

The doors could have been locked (Proactive)

This appears to have been a crime of opportunity.  If the students would have had locked door the felon would have likely chosen a different target.  In fact there is no way to know how many other houses he passed on until he found this on.

The girls could have been armed (Reactive)

If a armed, masked man enters your house, there is a good chance he isn’t trying to borrow sugar. If the co-eds were armed they may have been able to save themselves, especially twins working together.

All of this is very sad… for the victim, her family and the officer, but it serves as a reminder that we don’t get to choose when the balloon goes up, only how well prepared you are to deal with it.


  1. JMD says

    Good write-up about a very sad situation. As a father, I can’t imagine something like this happening to one of my daughters. I only hope I can help them be better prepared for something like this.

    Although Andrea was legally old enough to purchase a handgun, state law requires that she obtain a pistol permit first. I don’t know how things are in her county (each county administers permits differently), but in my county (Onondaga) the wait to obtain a permit is currently about a year and a half. Even if she wanted to be armed, it’s likely that state law would have kept her unarmed for a while longer while she navigated the bureaucratic red tape.

    It’s also interesting that, as you point out, the trained and qualified officer fired the maximum number of rounds allowed under NYS law for a citizen to carry in their gun (7 in the mag + 1 in the chamber). Good thing there weren’t two assailants.

  2. disqus_I31kKVTIm4 says

    She would have most likely lived if the police negotiated and one officer did not play hero. Not defending the felon who shouldn’t have even been free in the first place, but if you can’t take out a hostage taker with one shot you shouldn’t take the shot at all. 80% of the time, according to FBI stats, a hostage taker will not kill the hostage when confronted by negotiating police. When confronted with force the hostage dies 75% of the time. This is the reason most times when a cop or federal LE come across a hostage situation they do not engage with force because the survival rate for the hostage is much higher if they negotiate rather than use force.

    But like the author points out so many things could have been done beforehand that would of prevented this or changed the outcome greatly. Locked door, armed, more aware, even some type of anti-crime sign. I have heard stories of criminals who moved onto another target/home if there was a “beware of dog” or similar sign. So something as simple as a sign may have made this guy pick another home. College neighborhoods are great targets for all kinds of criminals because everyone knows most college kids are somewhat irresponsible and relaxed and most college police are a joke or non-existent.

    When I went to college in Minneapolis most homes and complexes where it was mostly or all students living were easily accessible. I lived in a large secure complex with security at the only main door yet the underground parking garage had multiple side doors that wouldn’t lock. I could and did roam the halls during the party weekends and sometimes weekdays and on every floor there were plenty of open doors, people passed out, drunk girls. Just the typical college environment. Absolute goldmine for criminals. I carried illegally as MN did not have conceal until 2003, and in 1993 at 20 I wasn’t even allowed to own a handgun, but I did. Thankfully I did not have to use it but there was more than one time where I thought I would have to and one time I did have to draw in order to stop a brutal assault. Even now in my 40s I have yet to meet or know more than a few people including my friends and family that live defensively, even in the larger metro areas. When I got my permit to carry people thought I was crazy, still to this day in another state with another permit most the people I know or run across that find out I carry are just not for it.. It dumbfounds me at times. I figured about 20-25% would be carrying here in WI but last numbers in May it was only 190k so barely 4-5% of pop.

    People that go through life either ignoring or are just clueless that this world is a dangerous place 24/7 will always be more susceptible to being victims of crime than the rest of us. I’m not saying the girl or these people were ignoring or clueless or both but the story leads me to believe they were. Some people think it’s crazy to own a gun let alone carry one, to me I think it’s crazy not to carry one 24/7. ranting over

  3. John says

    Jesus, they said he shot the robber 7 times! 1 or 2 would have done it, by the trigger happy mother fucker had to keep shooting… I understand situations are uncalled for, but jeez dude, take a break after shooting the man a few times.


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