US: Student hostage shot and killed by police

A US college student being held hostage in her home by an armed man was shot and killed by a police officer.

Andrea Rebello was shot dead by a police officer after being taken hostage. Picture: AP
Andrea Rebello was shot dead by a police officer after being taken hostage. Picture: AP

• US college student Andrea Rebello shot and killed by police officer after being held hostage

• Officer fired eight shots altogether, seven of which hit gunman Dalton Smith, and one which fatally wounded Ms Rebello

• Tense stand-off took place in Ms Rebello’s home as Smith attempted to rob property

Officers guard the area near the crime scene. Picture: AP

Andrea Rebello was shot once in the head on Friday morning by an officer who had responded to a report of a home invasion at an off-campus home, police said yesterday.

The masked intruder pointed a gun at the officer while holding the 21-year-old Hofstra University student in a headlock, Nassau County homicide squad Lt John Azzata said.

In a tense confrontation with the officer, gunman Dalton Smith “menaces our police officer, points his gun at the police officer,” Lt Azzata said. The officer opened fire, killing Smith and his hostage.

Lt Azzata said the Nassau County police officer fired eight shots at Smith, who police described as having an “extensive” criminal background. Smith was hit by seven times and died. Ms Rebello was shot once in the head.

“He kept saying, ‘I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” Lt Azzata said.

A loaded 9-milimetre handgun with an obliterated serial number was found at the scene, police said.

Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale said he had travelled to Ms Rebello’s home to explain to her parents what happened.

“I felt obligated as a police commissioner and as a parent to inform them as soon as all the forensic results were completed,” Mr Dale said.

Police revealed that Smith, 30, was wanted on a parole violation related to a robbery conviction and had an arrest history dating back nearly 15 years.

The shooting, which took place just steps from campus, has cast a pall over the university community as it geared up for graduation ceremonies today. A university spokeswoman said students will be handed white ribbons to wear in memory of Ms Rebello.

Ms Rebello was in her two-storey home with her twin sister Jessica, a third woman and a man when Smith, wearing a ski mask, walked into the house through an open front door, Lt Azzata said. Smith demanded valuables and was told they were upstairs, he said.

Smith, apparently unsatisfied with the valuables upstairs, asked if any of the four had a bank account and could withdraw money, Lt Azzata said.

The intruder then allowed the unidentified woman to leave and collect money from a cash machine, telling her she had only eight minutes to come back with cash before he killed one of her friends.

The woman left for the bank and called police, according to Lt Azzata.

Minutes later, two police officers arrived at the home and found Ms Rebello’s twin sister Jessica running out of the front door and the male guest hiding behind a couch on the first floor.

One of the officers entered the home and encountered Smith holding Ms Rebello in a headlock, coming down the stairs, Lt Azzata said.

Smith pulled Ms Rebello closer and started moving backward toward a rear door of the house, pointing the gun at her head before eventually threatening the officer, he said.