COLUMBIA, SC – On August 26, a sophomore attending the University of South Carolina was shot and killed when he mistakenly tried to enter the wrong home.
According to CNN, Nicholas Donofrio of Connecticut was returning home in the early morning hours around 2 a.m. and began knocking, pounding, and yelling at the door in the 500 block of South Holly Street in Columbia.
The homeowner/resident called the police, reporting an attempted burglary in progress. Apparently, the situation escalated while authorities were en route, as the homeowner began to fear for his life and shot Donofrio once through the window.
Donofrio was found dead at the scene, with a single gunshot wound to the chest.
Donofrio had just moved to the neighborhood with four friends, according to WTNH. Donofrio, an athlete in high school and during his freshman year at the University of New England before transferring to the University of South Carolina, was a member of Phi Kappa Sigma and had recently changed universities to study applied exercise science.
Authorities have declined to file charges, as the circumstances of the case make a solid claim of self-defense, as the homeowner/resident could not have known at the moment that Donofrio had made an otherwise innocent mistake.
Innocent Mistakes Can Have Tragic Outcomes
Some instances that have made local, national, or even international news involve an obviously paranoid and unhinged person who kills someone for knocking on their door or turning the car around (a family vacation of my youth involved a lady chasing us with a shotgun in those circumstances) in their driveway.
This doesn’t appear to be that. A stranger pounding and screaming at your door at 2 a.m. would appear to be a threat to anyone. This looks like a young man who made an otherwise innocent mistake but gave the appearance of something much worse. The shooter reacted to what was in front of them.
There’s nothing in any news reports confirming it, but incidents like this often involve alcohol. Drunk college kids going into the wrong house is not new (including a few of this writer’s fraternity brothers!), and sometimes the outcome is tragic.
An armchair quarterback might opine the shooter could have avoided killing him if they’d taken a moment or two to assess the situation, but it just as easily could have been the robbery they feared as a college kid who just went to the wrong house in the middle of the night.
It’s a damned shame all around.