Family beat gay man ‘utterly close to death’ because they believed he made their relative gay, records say

He was beaten “utterly close to death” at his Pompano Beach apartment in August, left lying covered in blood on his floor for half a day. The victim, a 31-year-old gay man, said his relationship with a 21-year-old man is what prompted the attack, records say.

Inna and Yevhen Makarenko and their son Oleh Makarenko were arrested in March on charges of attempted first-degree murder, burglary with battery and kidnapping. The Broward State Attorney’s Office announced last week that the charges against them were all filed as hate crimes, making the maximum punishment life in prison.

Advertisement

Another son in the family, 25-year-old Vladyslav Makarenko, was arrested, and prosecutors are reviewing his case, the State Attorney’s Office said in a news release last week. Formal charges have not been filed against him.

The Pompano Beach man, at first, told deputies he had been drinking and fell when a deputy found him lying on the living room floor in his apartment about 3:30 p.m. Aug. 6., his door wide open with blood and damaged items around the room, the warrant says.

Advertisement

For months, the man said he couldn’t remember what happened, records say. Then in February, the victim gave his account of what happened that night to a Broward Sheriff’s deputy.

Prior to the attack, the victim said he had been in a relationship with Oleh “Alex” Makarenko, 21, for about nine months. Oleh Makarenko had stayed at the victim’s apartment numerous times and had a key to his apartment, the warrant says.

The two had an argument in July that led to them not speaking for two weeks, until the victim opened his laptop, where Oleh Makarenko was still signed in, and saw text messages between him and his mother, Inna Makarenko, 45. The messages said the man’s father, Yevhen Makarenko, 43, found out he was gay, according to the warrant.

The victim called Oleh Makareno after seeing the messages. He told the victim that his dad started “treating him poorly and was not accepting him,” records say, and that “his mother was going to force him to marry a woman.”

On Aug. 6, about 1 a.m., Oleh Makarenko called the victim and asked for his address, which he thought odd since Oleh Makarenko had come over many times, the warrant says. He gave the address and the code to his gate anyway.

The victim got a call half an hour later that someone was at the gate. He thought it was someone else he had been waiting on, records say. But 10 minutes later, he saw Yevhen Makarenko’s Lincoln Navigator waiting in the parking lot with Oleh Makarenko standing in front of it and Inna Makarenko sitting in the driver’s seat.

Oleh Makarenko yelled out to the victim, “Go inside!” The victim then saw Yevhen Makarenko, Vladyslav Makarenko, another brother whose name is redacted in the warrant and a fourth man whose name is also redacted standing outside of the car, the warrant says.

He turned and ran. He tried to shut his door once he got into the apartment, but the attackers pushed it open, records say.

Advertisement

The four men started punching and kicking him, and Oleh and Inna Makarenko came into the apartment. She stood in the doorway and watched as the others beat him, the warrant says.

“Unfortunately your son’s gay,” the warrant says the victim told Inna Makarenko.

Then while the four men held him, one grabbed something and hit him in the face. He fell to the floor and pretended to be dead, the warrant says.

He believed the reason for the attack was because of his sexuality and because “the family felt that he made Oleh a homosexual.” The warrant says they all left at 2 a.m.

It wasn’t until about 3 p.m., 13 hours later, that a deputy was at the apartment for an unrelated call when the deputy saw the victim’s door open. The victim was still there, lying on the floor. The warrant says he told deputies he was drinking and fell because he didn’t want Oleh Makarenko to get in trouble, and he was afraid.

“If it were not for a random, unrelated call which deputies responded to in his apartment complex, [the victim] would not have been found or located, and could very well have succumbed to his injuries and died,” the deputy wrote in the warrant.

Advertisement

The beating left the victim blind in both eyes, intubated for three weeks and on a feeding tube for three months, records say. He was severely bruised and swollen, had a broken jaw, “misaligned” eye, blood infection, brain swelling and multiple other fractures, amassing about $100,000 in hospital bills and undergoing four operations with two more yet to be done.

The victim has since moved out of state to live with his mother, and his brother now has to care for him.

An attorney representing the Makarenkos did not respond to an email and voicemail requesting comment on Thursday.

Since the Makarenkos’ arrests, a woman who said she is a family friend created an online petition claiming their innocence and that the arrests “came out of nowhere and have no ground whatsoever.” The online petition says the family of six came to the United States from Ukraine six years ago and have since run several family businesses.

An online fundraiser has raised over $4,600 for the family.

“During their time in the States, they have never been accused of any criminal charge and never had any issue with the legal system,” the petition reads. “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.”

Advertisement

Oleh Makarenko is a former computer science student at Florida International University, according to the student publication PantherNOW. Flyers have popped up around the school’s Biscayne Bay Campus urging people to donate and sign the petition, the publication reported.