Crashing Glass

The aftermath of a freak accident: shattered windows and two broken families

But the Cheungs' road to business stability, following the classic immigrant route of incremental advances outbalancing minor setbacks, was knocked off track by the accident. It also dealt a devastating psychological blow that even family members struggle to explain.

Says the family's attorney, Lewis N. Jack Jr.: "They did not feel responsible. However, they are not unmindful of how catastrophic the loss was."

Cheung's 15-year-old daughter, Lailing, who was standing near the window when it broke and sustained a minor injury herself, appears to be at least one of the symptom bearers.

Top: After Kemar was injured, he tried to make it home but collapsed in the street. 


Bottom left: The broken window was at least 20 years old. 


Bottom right: Kemar's wounds were lethal.
David W. Brill
Top: After Kemar was injured, he tried to make it home but collapsed in the street.

Bottom left: The broken window was at least 20 years old.

Bottom right: Kemar's wounds were lethal.

Top: Boarded-up windows at Shanghai Garden covered with goodbyes to Kemar 


Bottom: Alex Francois visits Kemar's grave to honor his 18th birthday.
Top: Boarded-up windows at Shanghai Garden covered with goodbyes to Kemar

Bottom: Alex Francois visits Kemar's grave to honor his 18th birthday.

Lailing has never acknowledged that she knew Kemar, though he was a frequent visitor to Shanghai Garden. Kemar called in orders and went to pick up dinner there regularly. "That was Kemar's favorite restaurant," Sheila Fraser says. "If we ordered food, he would always want takeout Chinese. He loved the fried rice. Jumbo chicken fried rice."

But Lailing Cheung told police she didn't recognize the boys involved. After the glass broke, she said, she turned around and saw "one boy running and, like, one boy with a surprised look on his face."

To a reporter asking questions inside the small strip-mall Shanghai Garden in the Plantation Towne Square, Lailing flashes a cold, expressionless stare. The South Plantation High School student has just one word to say about the accident.

"No," she says.

Is she feeling effects from the shock and trauma of seeing Kemar die?

"What, like now?" she seethes, as if the question is impossibly lame. Bill Cheung shrugs and looks at his daughter.

"Your choice," he says to her. "Your choice."

"Why don't you come back later?" Lailing spits. The petite, bespectacled teen turns around so quickly that her long, black hair trails out behind her. She disappears into the kitchen, where an angry volley of loud Chinese erupts.

Bill Cheung says, "Let me ask her, OK?" and goes back to quell the upheaval. Arguing continues. His voice is calm, the others' sharp and shrill.

Finally, Bill Cheung emerges. Lailing, he says, will not talk.

"She was very scared, and she got hurt," he says. In fact, he adds, she didn't even want to return to the hospital to have her stitches removed. "She's just a young kid. Think about it. My other daughter says Lailing is still scared, [that] she does not want to be reminded. And so, I'm sorry, I can't help you."

Yet, he acknowledges, there's little doubt Lailing was profoundly affected by the events of November 30.

"Especially in the nighttime, she has bad dreams," Cheung continues. "Talking. She dreams and talks. Sometimes in the middle of the night, she shouts, 'Stop! Stop! Yaaaaaaah!'" He frantically waves his arms in front of his face.

"Dreaming," he says again, somberly. "With talk."


So much blood and chaos permeated the accident scene that no one was certain what had happened.

The initial 911 calls reported a shooting. Police officers arriving at the scene were looking for an assailant -- a black male, they'd been told, wearing a red shirt.

That was Kevon, who was momentarily apprehended by the first officers on the scene as a "possible suspect."

After she saw Kemar crumble to the ground, Josette Nash stopped to do what she could, but even with her medical training she was helpless.

"It was terrible!" she says now, her melodious West Indian voice clouding over with dread. "As I'm talking, I'm seeing everything over again." The 911 emergency transcripts show that she stayed on the phone as Kemar's life bled away at her feet. The operator asked if she could find clean, dry clothes or towels to stop the bleeding. "None of that," Nash said, frustrated. "None, none. Oh God!"

Then she said, "It looks like he stopped breathing, finally."

Shanghai Garden staff also called 911. Large portions of the conversation are inaudible, punctuated by shouts and screams, some of it in Chinese.

"OK, there's a lot of blood. I guess somebody came by and shot...," explains an unidentified employee. "One of them is on the floor."

Closest to the window, at the cash register, was Lailing Cheung. Her older sister, who didn't witness the accident, had called police. Lailing told detectives that her back was toward the window at the time it broke. She said she didn't know the boys.

"They didn't go to my school," she noted. But she said that previously while at work, passersby had made "harassing statements," and she conceded, "It could have been them."

Bill Cheung was at the other Shanghai Garden when the accident happened. He rushed to the hospital to find Lailing in the emergency room. She'd been struck by a piece of falling glass as she was taking a customer's order over the phone. The injury was minor, and she received two stitches in her back.

Months later at the Plantation restaurant, he produces a hospital bill from the pocket of his slacks, which are held high around his waist with a black leather belt.

"The E.R. was $1,500!' Cheung says angrily. "One thousand, five hundred! I'm out a lot of money!"

When Sheila Fraser saw her son's body, raw panic and anguish engulfed her. But the Fort Lauderdale Police officers standing around were anything but sympathetic, she says.

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