Hofstra neighbors express safety concerns after shooting

Antoinette Dukacz, 92, lives next door to the Antoinette Dukacz, 92, lives next door to the home where Hofstra student Andrea Rebello was killed. (May 19, 2013) Photo Credit: Lauren R. Harrison

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Anxiety mingled with sadness Sunday in the neighborhood where a 21-year-old Hofstra student was fatally shot after a masked gunman barged into the unlocked door of her off-campus home.

Residents said they worried about the increasing crime in the area but also were concerned that some students left themselves vulnerable to crime.

Irena Kruk, 57, who has lived in the Uniondale neighborhood for 25 years, said more security is needed in the homes filled with Hofstra students.

"When students have a party, they don't care" about locking their doors, she said, adding that students are "100 percent easy targets" for criminals. "They have expensive stuff."

Antoinette Dukacz, 92, who lives next to the California Avenue home where the shooting took place Friday, said, "I feel like I don't want to live here anymore . . . Now, you don't feel safe."

A 25-year-old woman who just graduated from Hofstra with a master's degree, and gave her name only as Lulu C., said she was studying for a final exam around 2:30 a.m. when shots rang out Friday.

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"It's not safe anymore," she said. "There have been several robberies on other streets."

Karen O'Callaghan, Hofstra University director of public safety and former chief of department for Nassau police, said the campus has 59 licensed security guards, who patrol the 240-acre jurisdiction of Hofstra's campus.

O'Callaghan said students aren't "targeted because they are Hofstra students. They are targeted because it's a crime of opportunity."

During orientation, she said, staff members talk with students about security. There also is a campus alert system using texts and emails.

Because many students frequent local businesses, campus security "will go down the streets to make sure the students walking home are as safe as possible," O'Callaghan said.

"In light of the senseless tragedy," she said, "we will be sitting down to figure out what else can we do. Those conversations are already happening."

Former Hofstra student Dayana Elie said there should be more patrols of the streets surrounding the university.

Elie, who said she was "about 30" years old, shares a home with Hofstra students who don't always lock the doors. When Elie learned of Andrea Rebello's death, she thought, "I knew that this was going to happen."

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"I've seen it happen everyday . . . they don't lock their doors and they leave them open," said Elie, adding that a former roommate was evicted after consistently leaving the door unlocked for her friends.

Kruk said she sympathized with Rebello's parents, because Kruk's only child was killed at the age of 24 in a 2005 motor vehicle accident. "I know how these parents have to feel," she said, tearing up. "They'll have a broken heart forever and never forget."

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