ORANGE (CNS) - A 26-year-old man was behind bars today on suspicion of anti-Asian attacks on an Olympic athlete and an elderly couple in a park in Orange.
Michael Orlando Vivona, 26, was booked on suspicion of criminal threats, elderly abuse and hate crimes, according to Sgt. Phil McMullin of the Orange Police Department.
Vivona is accused of walking up to the couple, who are of Korean descent, about 7:35 p.m. Sunday at Grijalva Park, 358 N. Prospect St., and punching the pair without provocation, McMullin said. The man is 79 and his wife is 80.
“They take a walk there almost six times a week,'' McMullin said. “And, unprovoked, this (suspect) just walks up and punches them in the face.''
Multiple other people at the park, who were playing basketball at the time, recognized Vivona for yelling and allegedly making criminal threats at U.S. Olympic karate athlete Sakura Kokumai, who is of Japanese descent, at the park on April 1, a confrontation the athlete detailed on social media, McMullin said.
“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 his alleged 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. Neither he nor his wife needed to be taken to a hospital, the sergeant added.
Vivona has been living out of his car, McMullin said. 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, according to court records.
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