A man accused of assaulting a Korean-American couple and berating a Japanese-American athlete has been arrested.
Michael Vivona, 25 from Corona, California, is charged with criminal threats and charged with hate crime for elder abuse.
The first incident took place on April 1. Vivona is accused of confronting Japanese American Olympian Sakura Kokumai at Grijalva Park in Orange, California.
The Orange police announced the arrest of Michael Vivona on Twitter
Kokumai managed to shoot a video of a man yelling at her and posting it on Instagram.
‘Yes, what happened was awful, but I don’t know what was worse, a stranger screaming and threatening to hurt me for no reason or people around me who saw everything and did nothing,’ Kokumai wrote on April 2.
In a series of videos, Kokumai, who claims she’s doing nothing wrong throughout the footage, becomes the target of a barrage of threats.
“Don’t look behind my back,” says the man.
He later adds, ‘I’m not afraid of you … you’re a loser. Go home, you stupid bastard. ‘
He also appears to be shouting “Chinese” to Kokumai, who was born in Hawaii.
“This could have happened to anyone, if it wasn’t me someone could have been hurt,” Kokumai wrote on Instagram.
Sakura Kokumai recorded her verbal attack on Instagram and even watched the attacker
Vivona is said to have worn similar clothes on Sunday, which helped identify him
Kokumai, 28, who competes in karate, won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games and previously qualified for the 2020 Summer Olympics, which are currently being held in Tokyo over three months.
On April 18, Vivona returned to the park, where around 7:30 p.m. he encountered a Korean-American couple taking a walk, police said.
Vivona is accused of beating a 79-year-old man and an 80-year-old woman and beating both in the face.
The Los Angeles Times reported that the man, who has not been identified, was treated for an abrasion to his leg after falling to the floor from the punch.
The woman also sustained minor injuries.
People in the park on Sunday recognized the suspect from Kokumai’s videos, saying he was wearing the same black shirt and orange shorts, according to police.
Passers-by began to surround the man while they waited for the police, leading to Vivona’s arrest.
Kokumai acknowledged the attack on the elderly couple in a statement Monday evening.
“I just want to say thank you to those who stepped in to help the elderly couple,” Kokumai said in a statement Monday.
“I was nervous at first to share my story, but this was a clear reminder that listening to and loving the community can make a huge difference.”
Kokumai is an Olympic-level athlete who won a gold medal at the 2019 Pan American Games
Kokumai will represent the United States at the Summer Olympics in Toyko this year
Upon his arrest, Vivona confessed to the police, according to the police CBS LA. He gets $ 65,000 bail and is due to appear in court on Wednesday.
Vivona is a warehouse worker who could live out of his car, as in both incidents.
“We believe this attack was racially motivated based on our investigation and our subsequent interview,” said Orange Police Department Sgt. Phil McMullin.
“He specifically said he hated the Asian community.”
There has been a disturbing increase in attacks on the Asian-American community, possibly related to the theoretical origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan, China.
The New York Times found more than 110 incidents of racial hatred against the Asian-American community since March 2020.
The Covid-19 Hate Crimes Act, which would bolster hate crime assessments related to the pandemic, will be voted by the Senate as early as this week.