A University of South Carolina student was fatally shot for attempting to enter the wrong home on Saturday morning.
20-year-old Nicholas Anthony Donofrio, originally from Connecticut, resided on the street where he was killed, according to the Columbia Police Department. Dispatchers received reports of a home burglary on the street, which was updated to a shots fired call as they were en-route. When they arrived on the scene, he was dead, with a gunshot wound to his upper body.
The Donofrios told News 8 that Nicholas was “A great son, loving, compassionate, all the traits you would want in a son.” They had just moved him into the house a week prior, and said that he was excited to live with his friends for his junior year. He was majoring in public health at the University, according to spokesperson Jeffrey Stensland.
Columbia police spokesperson Jennifer told USA Today that the shooter and homeowner had not been charged as of Monday, so police are not releasing his name.
Nicholas' case bares a stark resemblance to two similar cases from earlier this year: the deaths of 16-year-old Ralph Yarl, and 20-year-old Kaylin Gillis. Yarl, a Black teenager, accidentally rang the wrong doorbell when trying to pick up his siblings. His shooter, an elderly white man, was reportedly "scared to death" by his size. Kaylin Gillis was shot by another elderly homeowner after mistakenly pulling in to the wrong driveway. In both cases, it seemed that the motivation was simply misplaced fear.
Gun laws in South Carolina are fairly weak, and Everytown for Gun Safety ranked the state 18 out of 100 for its lack of essential legislation. Background checks and permits are not required for gun ownership in the state.
Additionally, South Carolina's "Stand Your Ground" legislation inhibits law enforcement's ability to investigate cases of self defense. As Giffords Law Center explains, the law allows people to use deadly force as an act of self-defense against a person, even if it isn't necessary and the person isn't acting illegally. As a result, misplaced fear could be defensible under the law, even when it results in the death of innocent people.