The person who shot and killed a 20-year-old college student early Saturday morning as he tried to enter the wrong home in Columbia, South Carolina, will not be prosecuted, authorities said.
Police and prosecutors determined that the shooting of University of South Carolina student Nicholas Anthony Donofrio was “justified” under state law, according to a statement on Wednesday from the Columbia Police Department.
Police Chief WH Holbrook said in the statement that the department extended its “deepest condolences” to the Donofrio family for their “immeasurable loss.”
“This is a heartbreaking case for everyone involved. Our lead investigator has been working diligently to gather all the facts on this incident,” Holbrook said. “Furthermore, he kept in touch with the Donofrio family throughout the investigation.”
According to police, just before 2 a.m., Donofrio attempted to enter the home by “repeatedly knocking, punching and kicking the front door while simultaneously manipulating the doorknob.”
A resident of the home called 911 while a male resident went to another room to get his firearm.
Police said Donofrio eventually broke through the front door’s glass window and reached inside to manipulate the doorknob, prompting the male resident to fire a shot through the window.
When officers arrived at the scene, they found Donofrio dead on the porch, with a gunshot wound to the torso.
Police said the shooting was a “justified homicide” under the state’s Protection of Persons and Property Act, or what is commonly referred to as the “Stand Your Ground” Act. By law, a person has the right to use a firearm to protect themselves in their home without criminal or civil liability.
“The finding is based on multiple factors, including evidence gathered at the scene, review of surveillance video capturing moments before the shooting, audio evidence and witness testimony,” the police statement said.
Because no charges were filed in the shooting, “the name of the homeowner will not be released publicly,” police said.
Donofrio’s parents, who live in Connecticut, said the New Haven branch of WTNH that her son had moved to a house off campus. They described him as “the son every parent wishes for,” adding that he was “funny, smart and compassionate.”
Donofrio was a member of the Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity, which founded one fundraiser Das raised more than $120,000 to help his family set up a scholarship in his honor.
“Nick followed in the footsteps of his big brother Louie and joined our fraternity in the fall of 2022,” a campaign organizer explained on GoFundMe. “Nick was fun, charismatic, energetic and a true man of honor. Although his time with us was short, he made a significant difference in the lives of all of us and everyone he knew.”
Nearly 29,000 people have died from gun violence in the United States so far this year. according to the Gun Violence Archive.