'Lucky to be his parents': Family mourns college student killed after trying to enter wrong house
The student lived on the same street where he was fatally shot, police said.
A 20-year-old University of South Carolina student was fatally shot Saturday when he accidentally tried to enter the wrong house on the street where he lived and was mistaken for a burglar, according to police.
The student was identified as Nicholas Anthony Donofrio, according to the Richland County, South Carolina, Coroner's Office. Donofrio was from Madison, Connecticut, and had just started his junior year last week at the university, his parents said in a statement.
Donofrio was shot to death early Saturday at a home several blocks from the University of South Carolina in southeast Columbia, according to a statement from the Columbia Police Department.
"We were very proud of Nick. We were lucky to be his parents. He was the son every parent would wish for," Lou and Dina Donofrio said in a statement. "He was loved by his brother, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and extended family. He had a group of friends that were like his brothers. He was funny, smart and compassionate and loved life. We will miss him immeasurably."
The shooting remains under investigation and no charges have been filed. Police have not released the name of the person who shot Donofrio.
The shooting unfolded just before 2 a.m. on the street where Donofrio lived, police said.
"Preliminary information indicates that Donofrio who resided on South Holly Street attempted to enter the wrong home when he was fatally shot," according to the police statement.
Prior to the shooting, police were sent to the home to investigate a report of a burglary in progress, according to the statement.
"While en route, the emergency call for service was upgraded to a shots fired call," police said in the statement.
When officers arrived at the home, they found Donofrio dead on the front porch with a gunshot wound to his upper body, according to police.
Investigators are consulting with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office in Columbia regarding the circumstances of the case, according to the police statement.
Classes for the fall semester at the University of South Carolina began on Thursday.
Donofrio's parents told ABC affiliate station WTNH in New Haven, Connecticut, their son was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity and was studying applied exercise science. The parents said they moved him into an off-campus house last week, adding their son was excited to live with four friends for his junior year.
"Our Student Affairs team is 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," University of South Carolina officials said in a statement.
Madison Public Schools officials said Donofrio graduated from Daniel Hand High School in 2021, where he played on the varsity basketball team.
"Nick was an exceptional young man who excelled in the classroom and as an athlete. Our thoughts are with Nick’s family and friends at this time," according to a statement from the school district.
Donofrio's parents said their son also played basketball for the University of New England in Maine during his freshman year, before transferring to the University of South Carolina for his sophomore year.
The family declined to comment about the shooting, saying they are heartbroken.
The shooting comes about four months after a similar shooting in Kansas City, Missouri. Ralph Yarl, 17, was shot in the head and arm on the evening of April 13 when he went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings, according to police.
Andrew Lester, the 84-year-old homeowner who shot Yarl, was arrested and charged with one count of felony assault in the first degree and one count of armed criminal action, also a felony. Lester pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on April 18 on a $200,000 bond.
According to a probable cause statement obtained by ABC News, Lester told police that he "believed someone was attempting to break into the house" and grabbed a gun before going to the door because he was scared. Lester, who is white, claimed that he saw a "Black male approximately 6 feet tall" pulling on the door handle and "shot twice within a few seconds of opening the door."