The fatal shooting of a University of South Carolina student who was trying to enter the wrong home on his own street has been deemed a justifiable homicide and no charges will be filed, police said.
“The determination is based on several factors to include evidence gathered at the scene, review of surveillance video that captures moments before the shooting, audio evidence and witness statements,” the Columbia Police Department said in a news release.
The decision was made in consultation with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office, the release said.
Nicholas Anthony Donofrio, a 20-year-old sophomore from Connecticut, was killed in the shooting early Saturday, police have said.
“Preliminary information indicates that Donofrio who resided on South Holly Street attempted to enter the wrong home when he was fatally shot,” police said in the release.
“This is a heartbreaking case for all involved,” Chief W.H. ‘Skip’ Holbrook said in a statement. “Our lead investigator has diligently worked to gather all the facts surrounding this incident. He has also maintained contact with the Donofrio family throughout the investigation. We at the Columbia Police Department extend our deepest condolences for their immeasurable loss.”
The case is the latest in which the victim appears to have been shot while making a common mistake in a nation with more guns than people. A Missouri teen was shot in the head in April after ringing the wrong doorbell, and a woman days later was shot and killed in upstate New York after she and her friends pulled into the wrong driveway en route to a party.
Officers in South Carolina initially responded to a report of a home burglary around 2 a.m. Saturday, the release said. The incident was upgraded to a shots-fired call as officers headed to the 500 block of South Holly Street in Columbia, about two miles from campus.
Officers found Donofrio dead on the home’s front porch with a gunshot wound to his upper body, police said.
Investigators determined Donofrio “mistakenly went to the wrong home and attempted to enter by repeatedly knocking, banging, and kicking at the front door while manipulating the door handle,” the release said.
A woman who lived in the home called 911 while a man who lived there retrieved a firearm, police said.
As the woman was on the phone with dispatchers, Donofrio broke the front door glass window and reached inside to manipulate the doorknob,” the release says.
The man then fired a single shot through the broken window, hitting Donofrio, police said.
“The investigation also determined that the homeowner was not prohibited from possessing a firearm and he legally owned the firearm for the purpose of personal and home protection,” the release said.
Police are not releasing the identity of the homeowner.
University of South Carolina student affairs personnel were “providing resources and support to those who may be affected by this tragedy, and we remind all of our students that help is always available to them,” the college told CNN in a statement.