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Suicide or cry for help?

An FDLE official says Yukio Allen's death looks like a case of ''suicide by cop.'' But his fiancee says he was reaching out for help.

By CARRIE JOHNSON, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published June 16, 2002


INVERNESS -- Yukio Allen was not the first in his family to die by gunfire.

His older brother, Patrick, was walking to the store in his native Detroit to buy a book on pit bullterriers when a man he was feuding with shot and killed him, said the younger Allen's fiancee, Laura Bordner.

Patrick's death was in 1993, Bordner said, and it had a profound and lasting effect on his younger brother.

"He was just talking the other day about how much he missed his brother," said Bordner, cradling the 13-month-old baby she had with Allen. "The whole thing made him very bitter toward guns. He couldn't stand them."

But authorities said Allen flashed a gun Monday night at a clerk at the Shell gas station near his small rental house, telling her to "call the cops." He returned home to 2609 W Forest Drive, where law officers said he later wielded two guns, one in each hand, and confronted them.

When Allen refused to drop his weapons after repeated requests, he was shot by Citrus County Sheriff's Deputy Steve Smolensky, officials said. The incident is under investigation by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Smolensky was placed on administrative leave with pay pending the outcome of the investigation.

According to friends, Allen, 21, was a cheerful, hard-working man who was devoted to his family. He had no history of violent behavior. So the question remains: Who was Yukio Allen and what prompted the events that led to his brutal demise?

No one disputes that Allen was distraught that night. Bordner had left him the Thursday before the shooting, taking their baby, Jasmine, with her. Authorities said he was making copies of a suicide letter at the gas station and told police he had turned on the gas in his house and threatened to blow himself up.

In an interview at her mother's home in Gainesville on Friday, Bordner said she left Allen after receiving a telephone call from a friend who told her Allen was cheating on her.

"It was all a misunderstanding," said Bordner, 19. "I know now he never would have done that to me. . . . I wish that I had stayed and talked to him about it rather than leaving."

But it wasn't the first time the couple had quarreled. Bordner left Allen for three days in May. She said she didn't want to discuss the reason for her departure.

Allen became so upset, his father called the police and had him committed under the state's Baker Act.

Sheriff's Office records show authorities were called to the house May 15.

But Bordner said her three-year relationship with Allen was mostly sunny. They had recently purchased wedding bands and planned to be married within the year.

"He really loved his family," Bordner said. "He would do anything for us. He was very, very devoted."

* * *

Allen was born in Detroit, where he was raised as a member of Jehovah's Witnesses. According to Allen's father, Jerry, his son moved to Florida to live with his mother, Helen, in 1994.

But his son grew restless and returned to live with him in Mississippi before the family moved to Ocala in 1998.

Jerry Allen said his son was tutored privately at home and didn't attend high school.

Allen met Bordner about a year after moving to Ocala. Bordner, then 16, was accompanying her mother, Stacy Hall, as Hall sold prepaid photo packages door to door.

"He asked us if he could have a ride to work," Bordner said. "We gave him a ride and he asked me if I would go with him to a Christmas party."

The pair quickly became close. A few months later, Allen moved in with Bordner and her mother after they relocated to Winter Haven.

Allen worked as a laborer at Velda Farms, a milk processing plant, to help pay the bills. But the severe asthma that had plagued him all his life sometimes made working difficult. The attacks were occasionally so bad his bosses would send him home, Bordner said.

Despite long hours at work and poor health, Allen was a very affectionate and doting boyfriend. He would arrive home with a bouquet of flowers in his hand and wrote Bordner long love letters.

"You are perfect in my eyes," Allen wrote Bordner in May 2000. "My love, you and I will be together until death do us part. And after death, we will be together in paradise."

* * *

Jasmine was born in May 2001. A few months later, Allen and Bordner decided to strike out on their own and got an apartment in Ocala.

Allen continued to suffer from health problems. Bordner said he was hit by a car in Tampa a few weeks after Jasmine's birth and suffered a broken arm and collarbone.

Then, in November, Allen had an asthma attack so debilitating that he was taken to Munroe Regional Medical Center, where he was put on life support.

When he was healthy, Allen worked hard to support his fiancee and newborn daughter. Bordner stayed home with the baby to save on child care costs. She dreamed of someday becoming a singer.

During his free time, Allen liked to browse through magazines, staring at pictures of the souped-up sports cars, chunky gold jewelry and enormous mansions he dreamed of one day owning.

"He wanted to win the lottery," Bordner said. "He worked so hard and he was so incredibly tired of working."

Money became scarce, and the couple struggled to make ends meet. In January, they moved to the tiny house behind the Shell station in Citrus County. It was owned by Allen's mother, so they could live rent-free.

Allen continued to work as a day laborer and assisted his mother, who cared for several foster children, Bordner said.

Mrs. Allen, an Inverness resident, left for Michigan shortly before her son's death and has not returned, according to her former husband. Attempts to reach her have been unsuccessful.

* * *

The mention of his son's name brings tears to Mr. Allen's eyes.

"I know he was having problems, but this was something I didn't expect to happen," he said. "Did they have to shoot to kill? Why couldn't they have tried to wound him?"

Mr. Allen and Bordner have hired Ocala attorney Dock Blanchard, who said he has three private investigators looking into the shooting. Blanchard said he had "a lot of suspicions and a lot of concerns" about the incident.

The FDLE's investigation is expected to take about a month, said Ray Velboom, special agent supervisor. But Velboom said his initial impression is Allen's death is "suicide by cop," where a person who wants to kill himself forces law enforcement officers to pull the trigger.

Bordner and her mother said they think Allen was reaching out for help, not asking to die.

"I'll believe that until my dying breath," Hall said. "I know that boy. He would not do something like this."

Bordner spent Friday arranging her memories of the man with whom she planned to spend the rest of her life. His thick silver medallion hung from her neck as she arranged his pictures in a photo album.

Jasmine, curious, crawled into her mother's lap. Bordner sighed and hugged her daughter closer.

"I know one day I'm going to have to tell her about this, about what happened to her father," she said. "I don't know what I'm going to say."

-- Crime reporter Carrie Johnson can be reached at 860-7309 or cjohnson@sptimes.com.

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