A man who punched an elderly Asian couple has been charged with hate crimes during his arraignment on Tuesday, local prosecutors revealed.
Michael Orlando Vivona, 26, is now facing two felony counts of elder abuse, two felony counts of hate crime battery and two felony hate crime enhancements, reports the LA Times.
The Orange County district attorney’s office noted Vivona pleaded not guilty to all the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of nine years in state prison.
Vivona allegedly attacked an elderly Korean couple, 78 and 79, as they were walking at Grijalva Park in Orange County on Sunday evening, NextShark previously reported.
The suspect was accused of punching the husband in the face and hit the wife in the head, knocking both victims to the ground. They suffered minor injuries, with the elderly man sustaining an abrasion on his leg.
Orange Police Department Sgt. Phil McMullin said Vivona admitted he has a “fixation against Asians,” attacking the couple because of their race.
“We believe that this attack was racially motivated based on our investigation and our interview that happened afterwards,” McMullin said. “He specifically said that he had a hate towards the Asian community.”
Weeks ago, Vivona was also captured on film in the same park verbally harassing Olympic athlete Sakura Kokumai.
On April 1, the athlete, 28, was training for her upcoming karate competition at the Tokyo Summer Olympic Games when Vivona threatened her with racial slurs.
She did not report the incident to the police.
Vivona is detained in Orange’s Theo Lacy Facility, and his bail is set at $65,000, according to the Orange County district attorney’s office press release