Nicholas Anthony Donofrio was a college student at the University of South Carolina and former high school athlete from Madison, Connecticut, who was fatally shot on August 26, 2023, when he mistakenly tried to enter the wrong house, Columbia police say.
Columbia Police Department officers “are investigating the overnight shooting of a 20-year-old male University of South Carolina student from Connecticut,” the Columbia, South Carolina, Police Department confirmed in a news release.
His full name was Nicholas Anthony Donofrio; he went by Nick Donofrio on social media. The person who shot and killed Donofrio was not named, and a charging decision has not been made, according to police.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Nicholas Anthony Donofrio Was Found Deceased on a Front Porch After He Attempted ‘to Enter the Wrong Home,’ Police Say
Shortly before 2 a.m. on Saturday, August 26, 2023, Columbia police officers “were dispatched to the 500 block of South Holly Street for a reported home burglary. While en route, the emergency call for service was upgraded to a shots fired call,” the news release said.
“When officers arrived on the scene, they found a deceased male on the front porch with a gunshot wound to the upper body,” it says. “The Richland County Coroner’s Office has identified the male as Nicholas Anthony Donofrio.”
The release continues, “Preliminary information indicates that Donofrio who resided on South Holly Street attempted to enter the wrong home when he was fatally shot. CPD investigators will continue to consult with the Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s Office regarding the circumstances of the case.”
2. The Parents of Nicholas Anthony Donofrio Described Him as a ‘Great Son,’ & Said He Had Just Moved to an Off-Campus Home on the Same Block
Donofrio’s parents told WTNH-TV that he was a Phi Kappa Sigma fraternity member. The television station reported that he lived with four friends and was in his junior year.
They had just moved their son into an off-campus house last week, according to what the parents told WTNH-TV.
According to the television station, he lived on the same street as the house he tried to enter on a block adjacent to campus.
The parents told the television station that Donofrio was “a great son, loving, compassionate, all the traits you would want in a son.”
Donofrio’s mother is a “Bookkeeper/Administrative Assistant at Guilford High School CT,” according to her Facebook page.
In 2021, his brother Louis shared a collage of high school graduation photos showing Nick Donofrio graduating and wrote, “So proud of Nick and the class on 2021. Such a great group of kids who deserve all the best.”
3. South Carolina Has a Stand Your Ground Law Which Could Complicate a Charging Decision in the Nicholas Anthony Donofrio Death
According to Giffords.org, South Carolina does have what is known as a “stand your ground law,” which could factor into the investigation.
“South Carolina has a stand your ground law which removes the duty to retreat before using deadly force in self-defense when a person is not engaged in unlawful activity and is in a place where he or she has a right to be,” the site reports.
“The state’s laws also make it harder to properly investigate these cases by limiting law enforcement’s ability to arrest a person who claims to have acted in self-defense.”
It notes, “South Carolina also has a law which allows a person to instigate a citizen’s arrest and, in some cases, use deadly force to prevent the person under arrest from fleeing.”
4. Nicholas Donofio Was a High School & College Athlete Who Was Studying Applied Exercise Science
According to WTNH-TV, Donofrio graduated from Daniel Hand High School in Madison, Connecticut, where he played baseball and basketball.
He was a basketball player at the University of New England before transferring to the University of South Carolina, the television station reported. That university described him as 6 foot 1 inches tall and 180 pounds.
“He was an applied exercise science major and loved to work out,” it reported. His Facebook profile picture is a photo of him on the basketball court.
Donofrio’s Twitter page is filled with highlights from his high school basketball career and posts about sports.
5. Some Are Comparing the Nicholas Donofrio Shooting to the Shooting of Ralph Yarl
Ralph Yarl is a 16-year-old Kansas City, Missouri, teen musician who was shot on April 13, 2023 – his family says in the head by a homeowner – after he mistakenly went to the wrong house to pick up his siblings. Yarl survived the shooting.
Some are drawing a comparison between the Yarl and Nicholas Donorfrio shootings, although there was a racial dimension to Yarl’s death because he was Black and the homeowner who shot him was white.
The homeowner accused of shooting Yarl has now been criminally charged with assault in the first degree and armed criminal action and faces life in prison if convicted; his name is Andrew Lester, 84.