According to Orange County police, a man named Michael Vivona was arrested on suspicion of elder abuse and committing the hate crime after reportedly punching an elderly Korean–American couple over the weekend and threatening a Japanese-American Olympic athlete in the same park earlier this month.
On April 18, just before 7.40 p.m., an elderly couple was walking through Grijalva Park near Prospect and Spring streets when a man approached them and punched them in the face, knocking them down.
Michael Vivona was arrested on April 18 and confessed to hating Asians, according to police.
On 4/18/21 officers arrested 25-year-old Michael Vivona from Corona for assaulting an elderly Korean American couple. He was arrested for elder abuse & committing a hate crime. He was also arrested for threatening a Japanese American on 4/1/21. Vivona was booked at OCJ. #arrestedpic.twitter.com/1wvromtMzm
— Orange Police Department (California) (@CityOfOrangePD) April 19, 2021
He is 26 years old.
Punched Korean American Couple Full Details
Vivona is accused of punching a 79-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman to the ground while out for a walk in Grijalva Park.
He was also charged with threatening Sakura, a seven-time national karate champion who is preparing for the Tokyo Olympics. The seemingly homeless warehouse worker, who was thought to be living in his vehicle, was arrested and charged with breaking the law. His bail was set at $65,000.
His arraignment is scheduled for today, although he has yet to be charged officially.
Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department confirmed the incident and said, “We believe that this attack was racially motivated based on our investigation and our interview that happened afterward.
“He specifically said that he had a hate towards the Asian community.”
Who is Sakura Kokuma?
A man can be heard yelling abuse at Sakura as she worked out in a video shared on her Instagram page. Police suspect to be Vivona was seen shouting at her as she warmed up for a job in Grijalva Park.
He was saying: “You’re a loser. Go home, you stupid b—,” he said. “I’ll f— you up.”
“I’ll f— you up. I’ll f— your husband up or boyfriend or whoever you’re talking to on the phone.”
Sakura told NBCLA about the horrific violence, “Nobody likes to be yelled at by a complete stranger.
“The only two words I picked up were ‘Chinese’ and ’sashimi,’ which have no connection at all.”
She added: “It makes me emotional just to think about it because at the time I did feel that I was alone.”
Thousands of people have watched a video of the incident that she shared on her Instagram profile.
Sakura captioned the footage: “Yes what happened was horrible, but I don’t know which was worse, a stranger yelling and threatening to hurt me for no reason or people around me who witnessed everything and not doing a thing. In that moment, I thought, “gosh, this guy is just crazy.” But when I zoomed out I realized there were a lot of people at the park.”
“Yes, a women did come up and asked if I was ok towards the end as it escalated… but for the longest time, no one cared.
“People would walk by, some even smiled. And I didn’t know what to do.”