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Neighbor apologizes for Manatee shooting

MANATEE -- Maggie Dufrene felt the need to tell her next-door neighbor she was sorry for the shooting that occurred in her home in Whitfield Estates on Wednesday night.

She knocked on Joe and Pat Suzor’s door Thursday morning and poured out her heart to the couple she has lived next to and exchanged friendly waves with for 15 years.

“I feel so badly for her and her family,” said Pat Suzor, who has lived on quiet Claries Drive, with Joe, for 21 years.

“They are Haitian and they are very hard-working people, always away at work,” said Joe Suzor. “I think it was great that she came over and apologized.”

The incident Dufrene apologized for involved her 23-year-old nephew, Kesler Dufrene, who killed himself in her back room late Wednesday, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

About four hours before he took his own life, Kesler Dufrene was apparently preparing to rob a vacant Whitfield Estates home a few streets over from his aunt and uncle’s home, said sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow.

Kesler Dufrene shot and wounded a Whitfield Estates neighbor who had confronted him, Bristow said.

The man “was shot in the shoulder and he was flown to Bayfront Medical Center,” Bristow said. “He will be OK.”

That shooting touched off a manhunt for Dufrene.

Before the night was over, the Suzors would have K-9s running through their yard, feverishly tracking Dufrene, who was next door.

They would have three deputies with guns drawn standing behind the Bird of Paradise bush in their front yard.

And, finally, they would be asked by a deputy to jump in their car and leave their home for at least an hour.

“What really surprised me was that I wasn’t as shocked by it all as I would have expected to be,” Joe Suzor said.

Hard-working family

The story Maggie Dufrene told her neighbors painted a picture of a nephew who had gone down a destructive path.

“Maggie told us the young man who shot himself was her nephew and that he wasn’t allowed in her home anymore,” Joe Suzor said. “But the nephew knocked on the door when both Maggie and her husband, Lorenzo, were working and the grandfather let the boy in.”

Dufrene had been released from prison on Sept. 27 after serving more than 3 1/2 years in prison on convictions for burglary and grand theft of a motor vehicle in Manatee County. The offenses had occurred in July 2005 and July 2006, respectively, according to the Florida Department of Corrections.

One neighbor told the Suzors they are going to put their home up for sale after this incident.

But the Suzors aren’t moving. They love their home. They call their pool and back yard “our Garden of Eden.”

“I hope there’s no backlash against the Dufrene family,” Joe Suzor said. “It says a lot about them that they said they were sorry.”

Richard Dymond, Herald reporter, can be reached at 748-0411, ext. 6686.

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