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Monday, May 20, 2013

Police Kill Andrea Rebello and the Robber Who Took Her Hostage

     Andrea Rebello and her twin sister Jessica attended Hofstra University located in Hempstead, Long Island. In 2012, the second-year students from Tarrytown, New York moved from the dormitory into a rented, two-story house a half block from the campus.

     On Thursday night, May 16, 2013, Andrea, Jessica, Jessica's boyfriend John Kourtessiss, and a third student named Shannon Thomas, were celebrating the end of the school year at McHebes Bar in Hempstead. The four students returned to the twin's off-campus dwelling a little after midnight.

     At two-thirty in the morning of Friday, May 17, 30-year-old Dalton Smith, a wanted criminal with a long history of robbery and assault convictions, entered the unlocked front door of the Rebello house wearing a ski mask and carrying a 9 mm handgun with a filed-off serial number. (Smith was wanted on an April 25, 2013 warrant for absconding from parole.)

     Once inside the house, Smith asked the occupants where they kept their cash. One of the victims told the armed intruder there were valuables on the second floor. Unsatisfied with what he found in the upstairs bedrooms, Smith said, " I saw you at the bar drinking. I know you have more money than this!" Smith asked if any of the students could withdraw money from a bank account. Shannon Thomas said she would bring Smith cash from a nearby ATM. Smith sent Thomas out for the money. He told her she had eight minutes to return. If she wasn't back by then, he'd start killing people. Once out of the house, Thomas called 911. (Nobody said criminals were bright.)

     When a pair of officers with the Nassau County Police Department rolled up to the robbery scene, they saw Andrea Rebello's twin sister Jessica running out the front door. Dalton Smith and Andrea were on the second floor while John Kourtessiss hid behind the living room couch. The officer who had been with the Nassau Police Department twelve years, and before that the New York City Police, entered the dwelling.

     Once inside the house, the police officer encountered Smith as he descended the stairs holding Andrea Rebello in a headlock with his gun pointed at her face. "I'm going to kill her," he said. When Smith turned his pistol toward the officer, the officer fired eight shots at the hostage-taker, killing him on the spot. One of the bullets hit Rebello in the head, killing her as well.

     In the wake of the fatal shootings, the police officer, who has not been identified, placed himself on sick leave. The police involved shooting will be the subject of an internal investigation. There should also be an inquiry as to why a career robber like Dalton Smith was out on parole. No doubt there will be questions why the officer didn't call in a SWAT team and a hostage negotiator.

     Shortly after the fatal shooting incident, Nassau County Police Commissioner Thomas Dale traveled to Tarrytown where he explained Andrea Rebello's death to her parents. I don't believe most police administrators would have the fortitude to face the parents of a child accidentally shot by one of their officers. Over the years, officers with the Nassau County Police Department have not shot many citizens.



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