UNIONDALE, N.Y. (AP) — A funeral has been scheduled for Wednesday for a 21-year-old Hofstra University student who was gunned down during a break-in at her apartment near the school's Long Island campus.
Nassau County police said Andrea Rebello, who was with her twin sister Jessica and several other students inside an off-campus house, was shot and killed Friday during an early morning home invasion that also left the armed intruder dead.
Rebello was a popular junior studying public relations. The shooting, which took place just steps from campus, cast a pall over the university community as it geared up for commencement on Sunday.
"Today is the last day of finals and this should be a happy day on campus; but it's not," said Hofstra freshman Scott Aharoni of Great Neck, as he passed through the area rife with yellow crime-scene tape Friday. "It's really sad."
Police are still investigating.
It wasn't clear who fired the fatal shots or how many rounds were fired, but authorities said police were involved in the shooting, which happened at about 2:30 a.m. A weapon was found inside the house, police said. The gunman has not yet been identified.
Rebello's father, Fernando, was too distraught to discuss the incident in detail outside the family's Tarrytown, N.Y., home Friday.
"It's my daughter, my baby daughter," he told the Journal News through tears. "She was so beautiful. I'm so confused.
"I don't know what to do," he said.
The Journal News reported that Wednesday's funeral Mass for Rebello at Teresa of Avila Church in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., will be in Portuguese.
Hofstra's commencement ceremonies will go on as planned on Sunday despite the tragedy. Hofstra spokeswoman Karla Schuster said she expects school President Stuart Rabinowitz to acknowledge the shooting in his remarks.
The two sisters, another woman and another man were inside the two-story rental house when the gunman, wearing a ski mask, forced his way in, according to Nassau County Inspector Kenneth Lack. The intruder allowed the third unidentified woman to leave, and she called 911. Police provided no other details on the man who was in the house at the time of the break-in, except to say he was not injured.
A law enforcement official with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press the woman called 911 from near an ATM. The official was not authorized to discuss the investigation publicly and spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity.
Victoria Dehel, who lives four houses away, said she heard what sounded like fighting. At first she ignored it, figuring it was from rowdy students coming home from a bar.
Suddenly, "This girl was shrieking," followed by loud bangs just seconds later.
"It didn't sound good at all," Dehel said. "I turned to my boyfriend and I said, 'I think someone just got murdered.' It was awful."
Andrea Rebello and her sister were 2010 graduates of Sleepy Hollow High School, according to principal Carol Conklin-Spillane.
"They were smart happy beautiful young women," Conklin-Spillane said. "I speak about them together because they were very much a matched pair. They were best friends by choice."
Andrea Rebello quoted Benjamin Franklin and Bob Marley in a yearbook photo from the school.
"Believe some of what you hear and only half of what you see" was attributed to the founding father and "Love the life you live, live the life you love" was the citation for the reggae legend.
A police car was parked Friday in front of the Rebello house in Tarrytown, a well-kept ranch home.
Neighbor Jane Phelan said the twins' mother recently told her the sisters had moved out of a dormitory and into an off-campus house.
"It must be very hard on the parents and particularly on the surviving twin," her husband, Jack Phelan said.
Associated Press writer Jim Fitzgerald in Sleepy Hollow, N.Y., contributed to this report.