Cops: Homeowner's Shooting of USC Student Was Justified

Nicolas Donofrio was shot after he broke window, tried to open door, police say
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 31, 2023 8:11 AM CDT
Cops: Homeowner's Shooting of USC Student Was Justified
"This is a heartbreaking case for all involved," Holbrook said.   (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins, File)

In what the police chief of Columbia, South Carolina, says is a "heartbreaking case for all involved," a homeowner who shot and killed a University of South Carolina student early Saturday will not face charges. The Fifth Circuit Solicitor's Office and the Columbia Police Department have determined that the shooting of 20-year-old Nicolas Anthony Donofrio was a justifiable homicide, WSPA reports. Police said at around 2am Saturday, Donofrio tried to enter the wrong home on the street where he had moved into a frat house a week earlier. He "attempted to enter by repeatedly knocking, banging, and kicking at the front door while manipulating the door handle," police said.

Police said the home's residents thought Donofrio was a burglar, ABC News reports. When he kicked the front door, a female resident called 911 while the male homeowner retrieved a firearm, police said. "While the female was still on the phone with emergency dispatchers, Donofrio broke the front door glass window and reached in to manipulate the doorknob," police said. The homeowner then "fired a single shot through the broken door window striking Donofrio in the upper body." Police said the homeowner legally owned the gun "for the purpose of personal and home protection." Columbia Police Chief Skip Holbrook said investigators remained in contact with Donofrio's family and the department extends "our deepest condolences for their immeasurable loss."

Donofrio, a junior majoring in exercise science, was from Madison, Connecticut. His older brother also attended USC. Mother Dina Donofrio tells the New Haven Register that the family is devastated. "He was a sweet kid. He was funny, he was intelligent, he was just a good person," she says. "He had a good heart. He had a good soul." The Daily Gamecock student paper reports that Donofrio's fraternity, Phi Kappa Sigma, has raised more than $119,000 with a GoFundMe to create scholarships in Donofrio's honor at USC and his high school in Connecticut. "While his time with us was short, he made a significant difference in the lives of all of us and everyone he knew," the fraternity said. (More South Carolina stories.)

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