Crashing Glass

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

"One of them told me that something happened to my other sons at the restaurant," she claims. She entered Shanghai Garden, looking for Kevon and Kerron. "And none of them was in the restaurant," she says, throwing up her hands. "They locked me up in there, and they tell me I couldn't see my son because the detectives were working."

After standing around Kemar's body in stupefied silence, police officers decided there had been no shooting. Instead, following the commotion, a different theory evolved -- one that involved the basketball being hurled against the window. Kevon, Kerron, and Josette Nash all disputed this account.

"I saw him hit the glass -- once -- with his hand," Nash says.

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.

Neither Kevon nor Kerron wants to talk about his brother anymore, nor discuss that afternoon. But Helen Kennedy, community liaison for Stranahan High, did speak with Kevon the night after the accident. "He said to me that Kemar was tired and leaned up against the glass," she says.

David Brill, the Pembroke Pines attorney who represented the Frasers on Kemar's behalf, offers another possibility.

"She's kinda cute," he says of Lailing Cheung. "It could be that a ladies man like Kemar would try to get her attention and look at her pretty face or whatever."

Still, police combed through the broken glass inside the restaurant, looking for a shard with the imprint of a basketball on it.

What they should have noticed instead was that the large plate-glass window wasn't modern, tempered, safety glass but just a plain old windowpane -- ancient, in fact. Engineers who examined it estimated it had been there for at least two decades, rattling around in its frame, struck by rocks kicked up by cars, pocked with BB holes. Some of the holes had even been painted over with the restaurant's name and phone number.

Eventually, Brill was able to demonstrate that the window of the restaurant had a preexisting crack and other problems affecting its structural integrity -- something Sheila still contends the Cheungs should have known and remedied.

"You know, it's a big window," Cheung admits. "It's not that strong."

The day after the accident, Sheila Fraser publicly blamed Shanghai Garden for his gruesome death.

"Restaurant Chinaman lied!" she sobbed to a TV news crew that had come to her home.

"If it was real glass, it wouldn't have broken and killed my son!" she insists now. "And when my son get cut, they didn't help him. If they had, maybe he wouldn't have died. They let him bleed to death."

Authorities do not hold the Cheung family directly responsible for Kemar's death. True, the Cheungs, fearful that a gunman was outside the restaurant, remained inside following the accident. But it is unlikely that, even if they had been willing to risk their lives to try to save Kemar, they could have done much.

"Barring standing in an operating room when this happened, these were fatal, lethal injuries," explains Dr. Linda O'Neil, the Broward County medical examiner who performed Kemar's autopsy. "If you transect those vessels, you're going to hemorrhage to death."

Sheila can't take much comfort from this. "I know if I was there, maybe he wouldn't die," she says through tears. "If I could stop the blood. Maybe put some ice on his cuts."


When classes resumed on Monday, December 1, word quickly circulated around Stranahan High School that Kemar Campbell had died.

"Normally, when there's a tragedy like this," Helen Kennedy says, "the school sends in psychologists and that type of thing. I said, 'Leave the kids alone. They'll figure it out.' They cried for 45 minutes, grabbed a mike, and formed a big circle -- I'm talking maybe 300 kids."

Kennedy visited Sheila Fraser to offer support on behalf of Stranahan. She also contacted a Jamaican-born pastor and a mortuary willing to offer services at a discount.

"I didn't know anything about funerals -- how to start, what to do," Fraser confesses at Kemar's grave. "I didn't even know how to get the body from the medical examiner." Kennedy, she explains, "is a godsend."

As Kennedy drove to the Fraser home, she noticed a stream of Stranahan students walking to Shanghai Garden, milling about in front, using markers to write eulogies to their friend on the restaurant's white exterior.

"They were certainly gathering," she says, adding that she asked them to return to school.

Later that afternoon, a larger crowd of students and friends from the neighborhood congregated at the restaurant. The sidewalk and street was still stained dark brown with Kemar's blood.

The memorial grew, covering one side of the restaurant, with messages reading, "I'll always love and miss you," "Dolphins 4-Life," and "Heaven gained a precious angel." After the sun set, the façade was illuminated with the blinding lights of a TV camera crew.

Later, the gathering turned violent.

After witnesses observed a group of as many as 50 kids throwing rocks at Shanghai Gardens late that night, police arrived but made no arrests. They helped Cheung board up more broken windows.

"The bitterness that the kids voiced was that the restaurant remained open," Kennedy opines. "But I explained these are people making a living. Only a few [kids] did the vandalizing, and they were ones I just couldn't reach.

« Previous Page
 |
 
1
 
2
 
3
 
4
 
5
 
6
 
All
 
Next Page »
 
My Voice Nation Help
0 comments
 
Loading...