Dead End

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Elie stayed in Room 133. Holmes and his friends were in Room 328. There was some arguing early in the night between the two groups. A witness later told deputies that while Holmes continued to celebrate, the four young Haitian men were on the third floor passing a .40-caliber handgun from one to the next. According to court records, they talked of killing the birthday boy.

A little after 2 a.m., after Kareem Moore had gone home, Holmes and another friend, Jermaine Paul, walked out of Room 328. That was when deputies say Dorcelus ambushed them with the .40-caliber.

Dorcelus fired at point-blank range, shooting Holmes in the stomach. When he tried to shoot Paul, the boy tried to block the bullet with his hand. It struck his thumb before piercing through the flesh of his left shoulder.

Holmes made it down to the first floor before collapsing on the concrete. He wouldn't survive the wound. Paul, meanwhile, was able to flag down security. While recuperating at the hospital, the younger boy told police that he — like so many other shooting victims — recognized the assailant from his days at Deerfield Beach High.

Exume, Jacques, and Metarer all had an alibi. While their friend was killing Holmes, they were eating at a nearby Denny's Restaurant. None of the three has been charged in the crime.

Dorcelus went on the lam and wasn't found until October 24, when U.S. marshals caught him hiding in a room he rented from a friend. He now sits in the Broward County Jail facing several charges, including second-degree murder.

When Barbara Brown, the tutor who sculpted Jennings' bust, heard about Holmes' shooting, she drove straight to the training center.

"We all cried," she says. "But there was a different feeling with Elvin than with Steven. Now I'm ticked off. This is a horrible problem, and there's not enough being done about it. This needs to be exposed. People need to know that these are not disposable lives."

Now she's dreaming up a way of memorializing Holmes.

"I'm trying to think of something to do with him," she says. "I don't know what it will be, but I want it to be more a social statement of what is going on."

Although both sides had been wildly shooting each other for months, only African-Americans had been killed. Three of them. It wasn't long before a boy on the other side would be added to that dark ledger.

At Mommy's house, there's a bunch of old carpet laid on the ground where the yard is supposed to be, and it leads to a rickety door. That's where she sits in her night dress, knit sweater, and flip-flops, all of them peach-colored.

Inside the old bungalow, she watches TV on a small set that has rabbit ears and a fuzzy picture. Two broken-down refrigerators, with old newspapers rolled up between them, sit next to her. Garden tools are stacked in one corner. On the floor are strewn all sorts of odd half-ruined objects — a rusted space heater, a blender, an old microwave with an iron on top.

Mommy, who came to America from Haiti 25 years ago and whose given name is Anna Marie Michaud, doesn't speak good English, but her eyes communicate well for her. There's a peacefulness about the 67-year-old woman that is endearing, a friendliness that is charming.

Watching her, it's difficult to believe that only a couple of weeks before, 18-year-old Yndry Cadet died of a gunshot wound in her backyard. Now the woman, who has eight grandchildren, is living alone again, without the stray boy whom she befriended and gave shelter.

On the dark and early Saturday morning of January 6, Michaud woke up to a racket outside her house and walked past the red, plastic-lined couch where Cadet usually slept in the backyard. There, she saw that his car had crashed into the back fence on her property.

When she saw the familiar old blue Buick, she yelled Cadet's name. "I see him, I look at him, I call him," she says. "He don't hear me."

He was gone.

Despite her young roommate's death, Michaud says she can still hear him asking, "Mommy, can I have something to eat?" She remembers the way he loved music, how he'd sit in his car for hours listening to songs when he wasn't at school or working at a nearby store. She tells of how polite he was, how quietly he would slip into her house at night and fall asleep on the small couch in the living room next to her collection of glass figurines.

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Journalist Bob Norman has been raking the muck of South Florida for the past 25 years. His work has led to criminal cases against corrupt politicians, the ouster of bad judges from the bench, and has garnered dozens of state, regional, and national awards.
Contact: Bob Norman