Lyric Benson ’02, an aspiring actress who moved to New York after graduating from Yale last May, was shot early Thursday morning by her ex-boyfriend in the doorway of her East Broadway apartment, police said.

Benson, 21, was in extremely critical condition at Bellevue Hospital Center as of yesterday evening, the Associated Press reported. Hospital officials said Benson’s family had asked that no details about her condition be released to the public.

A New York Police Department spokesman said police responded to reports of shots fired in the hallway of Benson’s East Broadway apartment at approximately 1:15 a.m. He said Benson’s ex-boyfriend, Robert Ambrosino, shot Benson once in the head before shooting himself in the face. Ambrosino was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Benson’s mother, who had been visiting from North Carolina, went down from Benson’s apartment to let her in when Ambrosino appeared and opened fire, police reported.

Benson, who lived in Pierson College and graduated with a degree in theater studies, was heavily involved in drama productions at Yale, starring in performances of “The Caucasian Chalk Circle” and several productions of the Yale Dramat. At Class Day, she performed in a skit recounting the Class of 2002’s four years at Yale.

Pierson College Master Harvey Goldblatt declined to comment. He said he would release information to Pierson students at “an appropriate time.”

Benson’s agent, Jerry Hogan, said Benson came to New York shortly after graduation seeking an acting career. Hogan said that while Benson initially had trouble finding high-profile acting jobs, she received a minor role in an episode of “Law and Order: Criminal Intent” that was taped earlier this month.

“Of all the students from all the schools, she really had a chance to — realize her dreams,” Hogan said.

Benson also plays a waitress in television commercials for American Express, and her agents said she recently earned voice-over roles in two major advertising campaigns.

“She was the prototypical young, struggling actress in New York who was finally starting to earn some money from her profession,” said her commercial agent, Michael Raymen. “All in the last month it started happening for her.”

In addition to her acting career, Benson was working as a waitress at Balthazar, an upscale bistro in SoHo.

Friends said Benson had been dating Ambrosino, 33, a former merchant mariner, since her time at Yale. But although the two had been engaged, Benson ended their relationship in recent weeks, friends said, and moved out of their apartment in the Greenpoint section of Brooklyn. Hogan said Benson had attributed the breakup to religious differences, although he said she had never expressed any concerns about her safety.

Newsday reported last night that police said Ambrosino had been arrested on a weapons charge in Florida in 1993 and for criminal mischief in Gloversville, N.Y., where he grew up, in 1989.

Ambrosino was an aspiring firefighter who recently earned college credits and emergency medical certification. New York fire officials said Ambrosino, who took the New York firefighters’ test in 1999, was several months away from being hired by the fire department.

— The Associated Press

contributed to this report.