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Crime News

Man Allegedly Attacks Elderly Asian Couple Just Weeks After He Threatened Asian Olympian

Michael Orlando Vivona allegedly assaulted an elderly Korean American couple out for a walk at a local park. Just weeks before, Vivona threatened a Japanese American athlete in the same area.

By Sharon Lynn Pruitt

A California man was arrested this week for allegedly assaulting an elderly Korean American couple 

Michael Orlando Vivona, 25, was arrested on Sunday evening following a violent incident at a park in Orange, California, according to a release issued by the Orange Police Department. Officers responded to the scene after receiving reports that Vivona punched a 79-year-old Korean American male and an 80-year-old Korean American woman. Some on the scene who saw the attack unfold surrounded Vivona, preventing him from leaving the scene until police arrived. He was charged him with elder abuse and the committing a hate crime, police said.

The couple was out on an evening walk — something they do on a regular basis, Sgt. Phil McMullin told Fox 6. Vivona approached them without warning and did not speak during the attack, according to a report from the Orange County Register. Paramedics treated the couple on the scene, but they opted to walk home themselves.

Sakura Kokumai Michael Vivona G Pd

Vivona’s arrest on Sunday follows an incident on April 1, during which Vivona threatened a Japanese American woman at the same park, police said in their release. While the police statement did not name the woman, other outlets have identified her as 28-year-old athlete Sakura Kokumai, who recorded some of the altercation and posted it to her social media account on April 2. Snippets of the footage show a man that appears to be Vivona verbally assaulting Kokumai in an expletive laden rant. 

Kokumai, a martial artist, is an Olympian gold medalist. In her Instagram caption, she stated that she was not only disturbed by Vivona’s abuse but by the inaction of those around her.

“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,” she wrote. “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 woman 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.”

“This could have happened to anyone. If it wasn’t me, someone could’ve gotten hurt,” she continued.

Fortunately, bystanders did step in during Sunday’s attack. In a statement issued to KABC, Kokumai thanked those people, some of whom, police said, were at the park with a church group. Others were at the park to play basketball.

"I just want to say thank you to those who stepped in to help the elderly couple," Kokumai said. "I was nervous to share my story at the beginning but this was a clear reminder that listening, and having love for the community can make a huge difference. We all must continue to be there for one another and work with each other during this time. We are all in this together."

Police stated that Vivona was wearing the same outfit during both altercations and likely lives out of his car, according to the Register. They believe that both incidents were hate crimes.

“(Vivona) made statements to indicate that the attacks were racially motivated,” McMullin told the outlet. “He’s got some sort of fixation on the Asian community.”

Vivona remains in custody at the Theo Lacy Jail, where he is being held on a $65,000 bond, online jail records show.