Roman Ivnitski turned to booze to blunt the pain after his wife left him for another man eight years ago. He handled neither the rejection nor the alcohol well.
Originally from Uzbekistan, Ivnitski’s father and sister persuaded him to leave his troubles behind in Albuquerque, N.M., and join them in South Florida.
Ivnitski did just that three years ago, but the drinking tagged along.
“He has a problem,” Dmitri Ivanitski said of his son.
Roman Ivnitski is in critical condition after being shot by Hollywood police on Monday evening outside a bar on Surf Road. Police claim the 41-year-old refused to drop his gun and so they shot him.
Police this week have refused to identify the officers who shot him. They also would not say how Ivnitski may have threatened them, how many times he was shot or how police tried to diffuse the situation.
In a statement, police say only this: “Officers attempted to make contact with the individual in an attempt to deescalate the situation. However, the individual’s actions necessitated a use of force response by police, resulting in a police involved shooting.”
Dmitri Ivanitski had no idea his son was shot and in such grave condition at Memorial Regional Hospital until the South Florida Sun Sentinel informed him Thursday.
Ivanitski said he and his daughter, Irene Ivnitsky Steele, have been calling his son’s cellphone, emailing him and driving around trying to figure out why he did not come home Monday night.
“We didn’t know where he was,” Dmitri Ivanitski said.
Making matters worse, Dmitri Ivanitski was not allowed inside the hospital Thursday to see his son. A Hollywood police officer stationed at the hospital told Dmitri Ivanitski that his son is in custody inside the hospital.
Officer Christian Lata, a spokesman for the Hollywood Police Department, refused to answer emails and text message asking whether there is a policy to contact family after a person is shot by police.
The shooting is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement at the request of the Hollywood Police Department. This is state law enforcement’s 73rd use of force or shooting this year, said Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the state agency.
A report from police says Ivnitski was standing on the street about 10:45 p.m., pointing a gun toward Ocean’s 13 Sports Bar and Grill at 3111 N. Surf Road.
A man who takes care of the area’s homeless cats told police he had just fed the cats and was riding his bicycle toward a trash can when he saw Roman Ivnitski pointing a gun near the bar.
The witness said he missed the trash can when he tried to drop the cat food cans into it and the noise must have started Ivnitski. Ivnitski turned toward him with his gun and shouted an expletive, he said.
The bicyclist told police he rode behind parked cars to take cover and then rode to a public restroom. When he saw that Ivnitski was no longer pointing the gun toward him, he raced to his home nearby.
That’s when Hollywood police showed up.
According to police, officers spotted Ivnitski and said he was holding a gun. Police said Ivnitski did not acknowledge the officers and did not obey orders to drop the gun. So officers shot him.
Liz Korsky was in bed watching the news when she heard about seven or eight shots Monday night.
“Oh my goodness, there were so many gunshots,” she said.
A neighbor sent a text message asking why there were so many police cars in the area. She said she stepped outside and saw the flurry of police about a block away.
Later she learned it was another neighbor of hers who had been on the bicycle when the gun was allegedly turned on him.
“He’s shocked. He’s very nervous,” Kofsky said.
A police report says the man said he would like police to pursue charges against Ivnitski.
Police say Ivnitski’s gun was recovered and his white car, with several bullet holes, was towed away.
When police first announced the shooting, they said Ivnitski was naked. He was not and police aren’t explaining why they initially said he was.
Dmitri Ivanitski said he is familiar with his son’s gun.
“It’s an imitation,” he said.
Lata, the police spokeswoman, did not respond to questions about whether the gun found at the scene was fake.
Roman Ivnitski said the family moved to the United States 22 years ago, a decision he does not regret. “I love the United States, everything I love."
His described his son as a kind person but said alcohol did cause him problems.
“My son, unfortunately, his marriage was broken, he started to drink,” he said.
Standing outside the hospital because he was unable to get inside and see his son, Dmitri Ivnitski hung his head low. As a dad who tried to persuade his son to get help for his drinking, he was feeling defeated.
“In Florida, I took care of him. My daughter took care of him. We tried much to help and," he said sighing, "I don’t know what to do.”
Eileen Kelley can be reached at 772-925-9193 or email@example.com. Follow on Twitter @reporterkell.
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