A Long Island police officer shot a 21-year-old Hofstra University student in the head as an intruder held her in a headlock at gunpoint in her Uniondale, N.Y., home.
Naussau County police responded to the off-campus home invasion early Friday at college junior Andrea Rebello’s home.
The suspect, Dalton Smith, had a criminal history dating back almost 15 years. The police officer shot eight times, hitting Smith seven times and accidentally hitting Rebello once in the head, said Nassau County homicide squad Lt. John Azzato on Saturday. He said a loaded 9 mm handgun with a scratched off serial number was collected at the scene.
"He kept saying, 'I'm going to kill her,' and then he pointed the gun at the police officer," Azzata said.
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Smith, 30, allegedly entered the Rebello’s home, just steps away from the Hofstra campus, through an unlocked front door.
The officer, a 12-year veteran of the force, is now on sick leave. An internal police investigation will take place as soon at the criminal investigation is closed. Naussau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale said the procedure is standard for any shooting involving an officer.
Dale travelled to Tarrytown, N.Y., to tell Rebello’s parents what happened to her. "I felt obligated as a police commissioner and as a parent to inform them as soon as all the forensic results were completed," he said.
Commencement ceremonies at Hofstra in Hempstead, N.Y., begin Sunday. A school spokeswoman said students will wear white ribbons in memory of Rebello.
Smith was wanted for a parole violation stemming from a first-degree robbery conviction. Police said a warrant was issued for his arrest on April 25 for absconding from parole. They described Smith’s criminal history as “extensive,” including arrests for first-degree robbery in 1999; promoting prison contraband in the second degree in 2000; first-degree robbery in 2003; assault in the second degree in 2003; and robbery in the second degree in 2003.
He was wearing a ski mask when he entered Rebello’s home, a two-story house that she shared with her twin sister Jessica and a third woman.
Azzata said the front door was open because someone had recently moved a car which was blocking the driveway. Smith walked in and demanded valuables. He was told they were upstairs. He then asked if one of the occupants had a bank account from which he could withdraw funds.
He let the unidentified woman leave, telling her she had eight minutes to withdraw money from an ATM and return to the house before he killed one of her friends, Azzata said.
Minutes later, two police officers arrived. Jessica ran out of the front door. Police found a male guest hiding behind the couch. Then Smith came down the stairs holding a gun to Rebello’s head, which he had in a headlock. He held her tight and started to back towards a rear door out of the house. He began threatening the officer.
Azzata said Smith menaced the police officer and pointed his gun at the officer before the officer opened fire.