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Tearful farewell for Andrea Rebello, Hofstra student killed in home invasion

The coffin of Andrea Rebello is carried into

The coffin of Andrea Rebello is carried into St. Teresa of Avila Church in Sleepy Hollow. (May 22, 2013) Credit: Charles Eckert

Andrea Rebello made a final trip Wednesday to the church where she received first Communion as a child and was confirmed as a teenager.

Her twin, Jessica Rebello, lit a candle for her slain sister, then collapsed, sobbing, into the embrace of a friend.

Andrea Rebello, 21, a Hofstra University student accidentally shot and killed by a police officer during an off-campus home invasion by an armed intruder last week, was remembered and mourned during a funeral Mass attended by about 300 family and friends at St. Teresa of Avila Church in Sleepy Hollow.

"She was a great part of this family," the Rev. Rumando Peralta, the pastor, told the mourners, which included family friends who had flown in from Portugal.

"We'll take a little bit of Andrea with every step we take in the future, from graduating college, to getting our first jobs, to weddings," said a woman who had been her sorority sister.

"You were so smart and had such big dreams," another mourner said.

Rebello was shot once early Friday by a Nassau police officer who fired eight times after gunman Dalton Smith, who held the student in a headlock and pointed his weapon at the officer, Nassau police said. Smith, who had held the twins, a friend and Jessica Rebello's boyfriend as hostages in the Uniondale house, also was killed.

During the Mass, four candles were lit in Andrea Rebello's memory.

The first one, lit by her godparents, was purple and symbolized grief.

The second, lit by an aunt and uncle, was yellow for the courage to cope with sorrow.

The third candle was white, in her memory; when friends were called up to altar to light it, about 50 young adults, some wearing white ribbons, came forward as they wiped tears and hugged one another.

"For the times we laughed, the times we cried, the times we were angry at each other, the silly things she did, but most of all the caring she gave us," a woman at the microphone said.

Then finally, the red candle -- symbolizing love -- was lit by Jessica Rebello.

The twins had been "inseparable," a word repeated by those who knew the two sisters. Wednesday in church, words of comfort were offered to the surviving twin.

"Jess, although the sister you lost can never be replaced, please know you still have sisters to hold your hand and help you through every step of this struggle," a friend said.

The Rev. Osvaldo Franklin of Our Lady of Fatima in Yonkers, a close friend of the Portuguese-American family, said the funeral Mass, which was largely celebrated in Portuguese.

"A question comes to mind," Franklin said. "Why? Why Andrea? In the flower of her youth she left us."

Andrea Rebello took pride in her heritage, describing herself as "100 percent Portuguese" in a blog she wrote about baking and desserts.

Friends recalled an ambitious young girl with a contagious smile, a cat lover, someone who climbed trees and also a student who grumbled when she scored a 99.5 percent on a test. They remembered the staples of their after-hours college life -- Cheez-Its, McFlurries and conversations that rolled deep into the night.

"She lived life to the fullest," one friend said. "She was strong and that's what we must be in this difficult time."

Another paid tribute with a poem: "In life we love you dearly. In death we do the same."

Rebello was buried at Sleepy Hollow Cemetery.

With William Murphy, Thomas Zambito

and Xavier Mascarenas

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