- The Washington Times - Friday, February 4, 2005

NEW YORK (AP) — As an actress, Nicole duFresne had roles in dozens of way-off-Broadway productions.

But it was a real-life line that witnesses say Miss duFresne uttered before her slaying — “What are you going to do, shoot us?” — that has brought her to the public’s attention.

Authorities have refused to speculate whether the 28-year-old woman’s defiant stand against an armed bandit last week prompted him to fatally shoot her on the streets of New York City.

“Regardless of what the victim said or did not say, the person responsible for her death is the one who pulled the trigger,” Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said this week.

Crime-prevention advocates, however, have cited the case as a lesson in how not to respond to a holdup.

On Wednesday, the Washington-based National Crime Prevention Council responded to widespread reports about Miss duFresne’s last words by circulating a list of tips on how to survive a mugging.

“It demonstrates that confronting an attacker is probably the worst thing you can do,” said council spokesman Todd Post.

Miss duFresne, a Minnesota transplant whose Internet resume listed “stage combat” as one of her skills, was leaving a bar with her fiance and another couple at about 3 a.m. Jan. 27 when they were accosted by a group of youths who authorities say had tried to rob another person earlier in the evening.

Witnesses told police that when the group, which included a 19-year-old suspect armed with a revolver, demanded the other woman’s purse, Miss duFresne responded with: “What are you going to do, shoot us?” Police said she also might have become involved in a shoving match with the shooter before he fired a bullet into her chest.

Police have arrested the purported triggerman, Rudy Fleming, and two teenage girls who they say took a cell phone and credit cards and helped hide the murder weapon. All three have been charged with murder and robbery.

On its tip sheet, the crime-prevention council advises potential victims to stay cool and comply with robbers. At the same time, people should take mental notes on what the assailant looks like so they can provide a detailed description to police, the sheet says.

A robbery “is more about power than anything,” said Alfonso E. Lenhardt, president of the nonprofit council, known for its McGruff the Crime Dog mascot.

“It’s a tragedy, but in this case, it sounds like [the suspect] felt he wasn’t getting the respect he was due,” Mr. Lenhardt said. “When a gun is in the hands of a desperate person with low self-esteem, they’re going to react that way.”

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