Gay hiking

3 family members face hate crime charges in attack that left gay man blind in Pompano Beach, Florida

Florida prosecutors said they filed hate crime charges on Tuesday against three family members accused of severely beating a man because of his sexual orientation.

Inna Makarenko, 44; Yevhen Makarenko, 43; and Oleh Makarenko, 21; were each charged with attempted first-degree murder, assault during a home burglary and kidnapping, according to the Broward State Attorney’s Office. All three face life sentences.

The three family members broke into a Pompano Beach home last August and beat a 31-year-old gay man so badly that he was permanently blinded and suffered other serious injuries, prosecutors said.

CBS Miami, citing arrest forms, reported the attack was premeditated.

“They secretly, forcibly or by threat abducted or imprisoned the victim against his will…to terrorize him,” the forms read. They go on to say that the three “strike the victim repeatedly…causing severe bodily injury and disfigurement, nearly resulting in his death.”

Officials did not release many details about the attack in order to protect the victim’s privacy, but prosecutors confirmed that the Makarenkos knew the victim before the attack and specifically targeted him because he is gay.

CBS Miami’s Karli Barnett visited the Makarenkos’ home. Someone answered the door, identifying themselves as a friend of the family, but did not agree to speak on camera.

On the mailbox were signs taped with a QR code saying “to help wrongfully imprisoned Ukrainian refugees”. The code leads to an online petition with 360 signatures. The description reads, in part: “The three arrested family members – mother, father and son are charged with serious crimes with multiple charges against them! This could result in a life sentence in the United States or (if possible) deportation to Ukraine – where an atrocious war is currently unfolding.”

Broward County deputies arrested the group last month and they are being held without bond.

A fourth person linked to the attack was transferred Monday from Alabama to Broward County Jail, prosecutors said. No charges were immediately filed.

Defense attorneys for the three charged did not immediately respond to emails seeking comment from The Associated Press.