A year and a day after her twin sister was fatally shot, Jessica Rebello graduated from Hofstra University.
At the commencement ceremony Sunday, May 18, in Long Island, New York, the 22-year-old donned a graduation cap adorned with the initials of her slain sister, Andrea Rebello, to commemorate the milestone she hoped they would've shared, Newsday reports.
Just before the ceremony, Jessica wrote on Instagram, “I don't know how I did it... but I did it... for you.”
Andrea was killed May 17, 2013, after a man, later identified as Dalton Smith, invaded the twins’ apartment. Smith reportedly put Andrea in a chokehold when police officers arrived on the scene. He then threatened to fire at both the girl and police officers, according to authorities. Fearing that Smith was going to use his weapon, police fired eight rounds, seven of which struck and killed Smith, and one of which fatally struck Andrea’s head. She was 21 at the time of her death.
The Rebello twins were both studying public relations and were both members of the Beta Sigma Phi sorority.
“He kept saying ‘I’m going to kill her,’ and then he pointed the gun at the police officer,” Nassau County Detective Lt. John Azzata told CBS New York after the incident.
On Friday, the Rebello family filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Nassau County Police Department, claiming the officer who fired the bullet that killed Andrea "carelessly discharged" his weapon and acted "recklessly and unnecessarily,” according to the lawsuit, per NBC New York.
A New York police union has defended the officer’s actions during the standoff.
"There is some second guessing by people who think we should have stayed outside the house, but our job is to get inside and make sure we can protect as many people as we can," James Carver, president of the Nassau County Patrolman's Benevolent Association, told The Associated Press last year.
The 2013 graduation ceremony at Hofstra was a sombre affair, taking place just days after Andrea’s death. University President Stuart Rabinowitz offered these words to attendees, per CNN:
I want to express our community's collective grief and our sorrow over the senseless and tragic death of a very young member of the Hofstra family. Our hearts and our thoughts and our prayers are with Andrea's family, and with her friends and classmates, many of whom are in this room this afternoon.