Police say the fatal shooting of University of South Carolina junior Nicholas Donofrio was justified because the shooter was protecting his property, as more information was released in connection to last week’s house break-in that left the 20-year-old dead.
The Columbia Police Department said no one will be charged for the early morning shooting after they received reports of a home break-in followed by a shots-fired call, where they found Donofrio dead with a gunshot wound to the upper body on the home’s front porch.
“After consulting with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office regarding the circumstances of the South Holly Street fatal shooting last weekend, charges will not be filed against the homeowner,” the Columbia Police Department said in a press release on Wednesday.
Law enforcement and the Solicitor’s office called the shooting a “justifiable homicide” as the homeowners were protecting their property, which is permitted under South Carolina law.
Because no charges will be filed, neither of the homeowner’s identities will be released, according to police.
The incident began in the early hours of Aug. 26, when police received a call just before 2 a.m. from the female owner of the South Holly Street residence about someone attempting to break into her home.
It was determined that Donofrio had “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,”
As Donofrio tried to get into the house, the woman made the 911 call and the male owner “went to another area of the home to retrieve a firearm.”
Donofrio managed to break the glass window of the front door and reached inside to “manipulate the doorknob,” which led the male owner to shoot a single bullet through the window, striking the 20-year-old student.
The homeowner was allowed to possess the gun, which he legally owned, as a means of protecting himself and his property.
During the initial investigation, police revealed Donofrio lived on the same street as the home he attempted to enter.
The Connecticut native had moved in with four of his friends down the street a week earlier with the help of his parents.
Police are waiting on Donofrio’s toxicology report from the county coroner’s office to determine his “type and level of impairment,” the release said.
Prior to attending USC, Donofrio lived in Madison, Connecticut where he attended Daniel Hand High School, playing both baseball and basketball before graduating to attend the University of New England, where he was an athlete on the men’s basketball team for his freshman season in 2021-2022.
He transferred to the South Carolina school last year where he was studying Kinesiology and Exercise Science according to his LinkedIn profile.
Donofrio was remembered as “a great son, loving, compassionate, all the traits you would want in a son,” his parents, who didn’t want to be named, told WTNH.
The Columbia Police chief called the incident heartbreaking and said the investigator was working to gain all information regarding the case.
“This is a heartbreaking case for all involved. 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,” Columbia Police Department Chief W.H. ‘Skip’ Holbrook said. “We at the Columbia Police Department extend our deepest condolences for their immeasurable loss.”