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Florida Man Blinded in Alleged Hate Crime Speaks Out

Sunday May 15, 2022
Originally published on May 13, 2022

Inna Makarenko, 44; Yevhen Makarenko, 43; and Oleh Makarenko, 21
Inna Makarenko, 44; Yevhen Makarenko, 43; and Oleh Makarenko, 21  (Source:Broward County)

Earlier this month EDGE reported "a family in Florida has been arrested in connection with a hate crime beating so brutal that it left the victim permanently blind."

At the time the Broward State Attorney's Office said it filed the hate crime charges for beating the man "based on his sexual orientation," . "The defendants are Inna Makarenko, 44; Yevhen Makarenko, 43; and Oleh Makarenko, 21."

This week the unidentified victim is going public about his experience, according to 7 News Miami.

The unidentified man said he feared for his life when he was attacked in Pompano Beach on Aug. 6, 2021.

"Definitely, they were trying to kill me. They were trying to hurt me," he said during an interview on Thursday. "I was thinking I was going to die, and there's no way I was going to walk out of there alive."

The 31-year-old man spoke to a Broward Sheriff's Office detective about the assault that, he said, left him blind for life.

At the time of the arrest, 7 News Miami reported that the victim and 19-year-old Oleh Makarenko had been in a relationship for nine months.

"He was a little afraid of his family or very afraid of his family," the victim said of Makarenko. "He was telling me that his dad was treating him like he wasn't even his child, that his mom was trying to force him to marry a girl, and I'm quoting what his mom said to him. She wanted him to force him to marry a girl to 'take all this [expletive] out of his head.'"

After a two-week break in the relationship, the victim said, he remotely opened his community's gate believing it was a friend, when it was actually the Makarenko family.

7 News Miami relayed that "The victim said he went outside but quickly went back into his apartment. Moments later, he said, Alex, his parents and his brother forced their way inside."

"Alex told me he hated me, and I told them, like, 'Unfortunately, no matter what you do, it's not going to change that your son is gay. I'm sorry, but your son is gay,'" he said.

The victim said he asked Alex "if that was what he wanted, and he told me 'no.'"

"The victim told detectives he doesn't remember what happened next," 7 News Miami said.

In addition to losing his eyesight, the victim said, the beating left him with brain trauma, a blood infection and multiple broken bones.

When the BSO detective asked whether there's a chance he'll regain his sight, the victim replied, "No. Medically, what I was told was that there's nothing they can do."

The victim also said he's upset because he would normally be helping his mother, who depends on him, and now he is unable to do so.

The victim had initially told investigators he had fallen down a flight of stairs, but later changed his story. He is now being questioned by the attorney for the Makarenko family, according to Florida news outlet Local10.com.

"He didn't implicate this family until seven months after the incident," Attorney Mike Glasser, who is representing the Makarenko family, said of the victim.

Authorities told Local10.com the reason was that the alleged victim was afraid and didn't want to get Oleh Makarenko in trouble.