A Florida man who was left permanently blind after an alleged anti-gay attack says that he was ambushed by the kin of his supposed boyfriend of nine months because they believed he had turned their family member gay.
The victim, who asked to remain anonymous, is a 31-year-old resident of Pompano Beach.
Last week, the Broward State Attorney’s Office filed hate crime charges against three members of a South Florida family – Inna Makarenko, 44; Yevhen Makarenko, 43, and Oleh Makarenko, 21 — who are accused of “severely beating a man based on his sexual orientation.” They are facing charges of attempted murder, battery, and kidnapping.
Another member of the family, 25-year-old Vladyslav Makarenko, was transferred from Alabama to the Broward County jail system on April 11 for his alleged involvement in the attack.
Authorities said that the victim was attacked in early August 2021 and “has been permanently blinded and sustained other serious injuries as a result of the incident.”
Wednesday night, CBS Miami reported that in a newly-released arrest warrant, the victim told investigators that he had been in a relationship with Oleh.
According to the victim, Oleh told him that in late July 2021, his parents found out that he was gay. After that, the father began “treating him poorly and not accepting him, and his mother was forcing him to marry a woman.”
The victim told the police that on Aug 6, he suspected that something was wrong when Oleh asked him for his address, even though he had stayed there several times, and even had his own key.
Around 1 am, when the victim came to open the gate for Oleh, he also saw his family there, whom he recognized from photos.
Oleh appeared nervous and shouted “Go inside!” — but the family forced their way into the victim’s apartment.
According to the arrest warrant, as the victim was being beaten, he turned to the mother and said, “Unfortunately, your son is gay.”
At that point “one of them grabbed an unknown object and struck him in the face, [the victim] stated. After falling to the floor, he pretended to be dead so they would believe he was dead and stop beating him.”
About 14 hours after the alleged attack, an officer who was at his building for an unrelated event saw the victim’s door open. He was lying on the floor with blood surrounding him.
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He only decided to press charges six months later, after he gained his memory back, the victim told investigators.
All four members of the family are being held without bond, though the mother is scheduled to have a bond hearing on April 25.
An online petition started by a person who says she’s a “close family friend of the Makarenko family” states that the family is “being falsely accused of severe crimes with multiple charges against them.”
The Marakenkos came to the US as refugees from Ukraine six years ago, according to Christina Hermann.
“They are a Christian family, believers in God, members of the church and get together on the weekends to pray in their family circle and community,” the petition states.