According to a press release from Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer, 26-year-old Michael Orlando Vivona allegedly punched an elderly Asian man and woman who were walking together through Grijalva Park on April 18.
Vivona has been charged with two felony counts of elder abuse, two felony counts of battery hate crime causing injury, and two felony hate crime enhancements for the “unprovoked attack” against the Korean couple.
The couple, who are in their late 70s, were on their regular nightly walk when Vivona ran up on them at around 7:40 p.m. He punched both the man and the woman. When he was arrested, he “made statements to police disparaging Asians,” Spitzer’s release says. NBC News reports he’s pleaded not guilty to every charge and is being held on a $65,000 bail.
Orange County police told the news outlet people in the park surrounded Vivona until officers got to the scene to arrest him. He’s also being investigated for a separate incident at the park, where he’s accused of verbally threatening U.S. Olympic karate athlete Sakura Kokumai on April 1.
In a video of that incident, Vivona can be heard telling Kokumai to “go home” and calling her “Chinese” and “disgusting.” While Kokumai’s family is Japanese, she was born in Honolulu, Hawaii. She told NBC she was on a run when he started berating her. “When he walked closer, that’s where I did get scared a little bit because you just never know what could happen,” she said.