Michael Sangbong Rhee thought his victim was white but she was of Asian descent
An Asian man was arrested for kidnapping and attempting to sexually assault a woman in retaliation for anti-Asian hate crimes.
Michael Sangbong Rhee, 37, approached the victim who was sitting in her car outside her apartment in Lake Forest, Irvine.
The incident occurred in the area of Harvard Avenue and Coronado around 1:30 p.m. Thursday.
Holding what seemed to be a handgun, Rhee told the woman that she needed to get in the back of her car if she wanted to live.
The victim offered her wallet and cash but Rhee replied they would “do that later” before forcing her into the back seat.
However, Rhee was spooked as the victim shouted out to a nearby maintenance worker that he was armed.
Rhee exited the vehicle and ran through the apartment complex to flee in his own vehicle.
Surveillance cameras captured Rhee’s license plate and police were able to track him back to his home.
Officers arrested Rhee and searched his home and vehicle to find a BB gun.
Rhee was booked under the suspicion of kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual assault with bail of $1 million
Police officers said Rhee’s attack was in retaliation to the recent rise in hate crimes against Asian Americans, based on a discussion with him.
Thus, police are asking the Orange County District Attorney’s Office to charge Rhee with a hate crime.
Rhee had believed his victim was white but she was of Asian descent.
The incident follows a surge in attacks on Asian Americans across the country, including an Asian woman who was hit in the face in Philadelphia.
In California, Vietnamese family was tied up in their own home by robbers who stole their entire life savings in Oakland, California.
Also in California, an elderly Asian American woman was kicked in the face by a suspect who was on parole for fatally stabbing his mother.
Meanwhile, a Japanese American man was randomly punched in the face whilst walking in Washington D.C.
Also in San Francisco, an Asian woman was attacked and dragged by a getaway car.
Additionally, a 13-year-old boy was racially attacked in Flushing.
Most recently, an Asian American mother was stabbed to death by a homeless woman in Riverside, and a woman in Seattle was arrested and charged with a hate crime for threatening her Asian American neighbour.