Man Arrested for Assaulting Asian Couple, Threatening Athlete

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Rafu Staff and Wire Reports

ORANGE — The Orange Police Department released the following report:

“On April 18, 2021, at 7:37 p.m., officers responded to 368 N. Prospect reference an assault at a park. The suspect punched a 79-year-old Korean American male and his 80-year-old Korean American wife in the face. The assault was unprovoked and caused both elderly victims to fall down.

Michael Orlando Vivona

“Community members at the park surrounded the suspect until officers arrived. The suspect was arrested for elder abuse and committing a hate crime. The suspect was identified as 25-year-old Michael Orlando Vivona from Corona.

“Vivona was also arrested for threatening a Japanese American on April 1, 2021 at the same location. Vivona was booked at Orange County Jail.”

Both the assault on the couple and the verbal threats against Olympic athlete Sakura Kokumai occurred at Grijalva Park in Orange, according to police.

Kokumai, who will compete in karate kata at the Tokyo Games, was working out in the park when a man started yelling at her. She recorded the encounter in videos that she posted on Instagram. The man threatened her and her boyfriend or husband (she was talking to someone on the phone) and later used racial slurs, she said.

In going public about the indident, Kokumai said she was disheartened by the fact that there were several witnesses but no one intervened.

Kokumai could have defended herself if attacked, but she seemed to anticipate the assault on the elderly couple when she said, “This could have happened to anyone. If it wasn’t me, someone could’ve gotten hurt. We need to take care of each other. Why is it so hard to treat people with respect?”

Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department said of the couple, “They take a walk there almost six times a week. And, unprovoked, this (suspect) just walks up and punches them in the face.”

Other people at the park, who were playing basketball at the time, had seen the videos that Kokumai posted on social media.

“They recognized him from the previous attack on Sakura Kokumai and surrounded him,” McMullin said. “There was an officer right there across the street and we arrested him.”

Vivona did not say anything before the attack on the couple, but under questioning by police, “He made statements that gave us enough information to determine the attacks are racially motivated,” McMullin said.

The man, who was punched in the face, cut his knee when he fell and was

treated by paramedics at the scene, McMullin said, adding that neither of the victims needed to be taken to a hospital.

Vivona has been living out of his car, McMullin said.

According to court records, he pleaded guilty in April 2018 to a misdemeanor count of disobeying a domestic relations court order and was placed on three years of formal probation. He has had probation revoked three times.

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