Andrea Rebello, Tarrytown junior killed near Hofstra, was 'all-around wonderful,' says her former principal

Friends and Hofstra students react after learning of a fatal shooting on California Avenue in Uniondale. (May 17, 2013)

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Andrea Rebello of Tarrytown and her identical twin sister Jessica were best friends and inseparable.

On Friday, the siblings were together when Andrea was shot and killed during a home invasion in a rented house near Hofstra University, where she was a junior majoring in public relations with a sociology minor.

"They did all the right things and they did all the goofy adolescent stuff," said Carol Conklin-Spillane, the principal at Sleepy Hollow High School, from where the twins graduated in 2010.

"Our hearts go out to the family," said Conklin-Spillane, who described Andrea Rebello, 21, as "just one of those all-around wonderful young women.

She was "serious, fun, a typical teenager" who loved literature and was a member of the English Honors Society, according to Conklin-Spillane.

Rebello was shot dead in the Uniondale home in Long Island along with a masked gunman who forced his way in just after 2 a.m., according to police and Hofstra officials.

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A man from Brooklyn and a woman from Connecticut also were in the California Avenue home with the Rebellos at the time of the attack, authorities said.

It appeared the Connecticut woman was allowed to go to an ATM to get cash, but instead called 911, police said.

An emergency scanner transmission between police monitored at about 2:30 a.m. said a woman had called 911 from a bank to report a home invasion. She said she had gone to the ATM to withdraw cash while a man was holding a female friend at gunpoint.

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Officers responded to the call for a robbery in progress. Shortly after they arrived "there was a police-involved shooting" in the home," and the suspect and victim were killed, a police spokesman said.

Police declined to say who shot Rebello and who felled the unidentified gunman.

No one else was injured in the shooting.

Nassau police said the circumstances surrounding the shootings just south of the Hofstra campus, remain under investigation. A forensic analysis is being conducted.

"We are going to get to the bottom of exactly what happened," Nassau Police Chief Rick Capece said at a news conference. "We have to do this the right way."

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GODMOTHER: 'THEY WERE GREAT KIDS'

A relative who answered the door at the Rebellos' raised ranch home on Altamont Avenue in Tarrytown Friday afternoon said, "This is not a good time."

Late in the afternoon, Rebello's godmother arrived, crying as she went into the house. "There's no words," said the woman, who wouldn't give her name. "They were great kids."

Neighbor Jack Phelan said that the shooting is a tragedy for the Rebello family, who are of Portuguese descent.

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"They'll never get over it," Phelan said.

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The Rebello parents were hardworking people who "sacrificed everything so that they'd have a better life." The father, Fernando, is a contractor who recently had restored the family's brick and shingle one story house. And the parents recently bought a car for the twins.

Rebello appeared to have a passion for sweets, having started a blog earlier in the year about different holiday treats. Her most recent entry was posted Sunday. She wrote about her plans to cover strawberries in Fourth of July-colored decorations.

At Rebello's high school alma mater Friday, Conklin-Spillane said she sought to explain the tragedy that unfolded to her current students.

"We're grief-stricken," she said.

The principal shared Rebello's 2010 yearbook entry with Newsday. In the book, Rebello borrowed a line from a Bob Marley song. "Love the life you live, live the life you love," she quoted from the late reggae singer's lyrics.

'DIFFICULT DAY' AT HOFSTRA

At Hofstra, university officials said flags will be flown at half-staff in honor of Rebello.

"The Hofstra University community is deeply saddened by the loss of Andrea Rebello, a junior public relations major, earlier this morning," the school said in a statement. "This is a difficult day for all of us."

The university was scheduled to hold a gathering from 6 to 7 p.m. at the Student Center to help those dealing with the aftermath of the shooting.

Despite the tragedy, commencement ceremonies scheduled for Sunday will go on. Friday marked the final day of spring semester classes at the school.

Early Friday, several Hofstra students said they were too upset to talk about the shooting, yet many remained near the crime scene.

Victoria Dehel, who lives four houses away, said she heard what sounded like fighting in the residence where the shooting occurred. At first she ignored it, figuring it was 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."

A dozen police cars swooped in; some officers carried protective shields.

Dehel and her boyfriend started to go outside, but police yelled at them to go back into their house.

The university sent a text alert to notify students and staff.

The California Avenue Elementary School across the street from the house was closed Friday, and streets in the area were still sealed off.

"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. "It's really sad."

With John Valenti, Olivia Winslow and The Associated Press

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