A 31-year-old Florida man who was blinded after a vicious home invasion and assault claims he was ambushed by the family of the man he had been dating because they believed he had “turned” the 21-year-old gay.
The victim, whose identity is being kept anonymous for his own protection, claims he had been dating 21-year-old Oleh Makarenko for nearly nine months when Makarenko and his family members forcibly entered his house on Aug. 6, 2021. The attackers, which included Makarenko’s mother and father, beat him so severely that he was left lying on the floor in a pool of blood.
As a result of the injuries sustained during the attack, the victim temporarily lost his memory and went permanently blind. He decided to press charges six months later after he gained his memory back, reports the New York Daily News.
According to an arrest warrant, the victim told investigators that he had been in a relationship with Oleh Makarenko, but Makarenko’s parents reacted poorly after finding out their son was gay, refusing to accept his identity and even trying to force him to marry a woman.
The victim told police that on Aug. 6, 2021, he suspected something was wrong when Oleh Makarenko asked him for his address, even though he had stayed at the house several times and had his own key.
Around 1 a.m., when the victim came to open the gate for Oleh, he saw the family there, whom he had never met before but recognized from photos. Oleh appeared nervous and shouted, “Go inside!” but the family force their way into the apartment and began beating the victim, reports CBS Miami.
At one point, while he was being beaten, he turned to 44-year-old Inna Makarenko and said: “Unfortunately, your son is gay.”
In response, one of the family members grabbed an unknown object and struck the victim in the face. He fell to the floor and pretended to be dead so they would stop beating him. Fourteen hours later, an officer who was at the victim’s apartment building for an unrelated event saw the victim’s door open and discovered the victim in need of serious medical attention.
Last week, the Broward State Attorney’s Office field hate crime charges against Inna Makarenko, her husband, Yevhen, and Oleh, alleging that they beat the man due to his sexual orientation. All three face charges of first-degree attempted murder, battery during the burglary of a dwelling, 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.
All four members of the family are being held without bond, although Inna Makarenko, the mother, was scheduled for a bond hearing on Monday. No information regarding the outcome of that hearing was available as of press time. Inna Makarenko previously entered a written plea of not guilty to the charges against her, and is next scheduled to appear in court on June 17.
An online petition started by a person claiming to be a family friend of the Makarenkos claims the family, who came to the United States as refugees from Ukraine six years ago, have been “falsely accused” of the charges against them.
“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.
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