A Hofstra University student was killed early Friday after opening the door of her off-campus home to a gun-toting robber and after police exchanged a barrage of bullets, both were dead in the home, Nassau County police said.
Andrea Rebello, 21, was a junior public relations major at the college. She lived at the home with her twin sister, Jessica, and a number of other students. Neighbors described the home at 213 California Ave. in Uniondale as a “sorority house.”
Several neighbors said that they heard the college student pleading for her life before a barrage of gunfire. Victoria Dehel, 20, a student at SUNY Old Westbury said that she first heard a man and woman arguing loudy. “There were these four to five thuds…gunshots,” she said. When she went outside with her boyfriend to check out the commotion, Dehel said police had swarmed the block and an officer told her “go back in your house.” She said that she returned to the window about 20 minutes later, asking a police officer if it was safe. “It is now,” she said the officer responded.
Police said it was 2:20 a.m. on Friday when a masked gunman knocked on the door at the off-campus home. The two twins, Andrea and Jessica Rebello were home with Jessica’s boyfriend John Kourtessiss of Brooklyn and a fellow housemate, identified as Shannon T. from Connecticut, according to friends.
Nassau County Chief of Detectives Rick Capece said at a news conference that the masked man held all four people at gunpoint before letting one of the women, later identified as Shannon, leave the home. Police dispatch tapes obtained by usedview.com indicate that the victim told police that armed gunman ordered her to go to a nearby ATM and bring back cash. She went to a Bank of America branch while calling police.
Witnesses said that the four victims all went out drinking at a local bar earlier Friday morning. “It’s just so said. I was with her in the library right before she went out,” fellow sorority sister Alexandra Berman, 21, said.
Police received the frantic 911 call at 2:29 a.m. and neighbors said heavily armed police officers descended upon the house in all directions. “I saw them going into the house. We heard people yelling,” said Katherine Parker, 27, a law student at Hofstra University who lives directly behind the home.
Parker said police were routine visitors to the California Ave. home that law enforcement sources described as an unofficial sorority house. “We had heard fighting there last week and called police. She sounded upset. There was a lot of fighting,” Parker said.
Asked to categorize her reaction to the news of the deadly home invasion just feet from her house, Parker told a reporter, “It’s alarming,” noting that she felt safe “before,” and moved to the neighborhood because she thought it would be safer than nearby Hempstead.
The identity of the shooter remains unknown as of Saturday morning. Police officials said that armed intruder was not carrying identification and that a search warrant was necessary to collect evidence from the home and fingerprint the body.
Capece said that officers recovered a gun from inside the home and federal agents with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms arrived to the scene to collect the weapon for evidence. A law enforcement source said that federal agents will attempt to obtain a serial number from the weapon and track back the gun’s history.
Visibly crying, Fernando Rebello spoke with reporters in Westchester about his daughter. “It’s my daughter, my baby daughter, he told The Journal News. “I’m so confused. I don’t know what to do.” Just hours prior to giving that interview, Rebello’s parents arrived at Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, flanked by detectives, as they went to identify the body of their 21-year-old twin.
Police said that Jessica, her boyfriend John and Shannon were all uninjured during the altercation. An investigation by homicide detectives will remain ongoing as detectives compare bullets recovered from the bodies to the weapons of responding officers.
“We’re doing a forensic analysis at this time. We’re going to get to the bottom of what happened,” Capece said.