An Asian man was arrested in Irvine, California, on April 8 after he allegedly tried to sexually assault an Asian woman “because he thought she was White,” according to the Irvine Police Department.
37-year-old Michael Sangbong Rhee aimed a handgun at the female victim and told her that if she wanted to live, she had to comply with his request to move to the backseat of her car, a press release stated. Rhee then climbed into the vehicle and “committed a sexual battery against” her. The woman screamed and drew the attention of a nearby maintenance worker who came to her aid, the release continued.
Irvine, Calif. (April 9, 2021) – Last night, Irvine Police arrested 37-year-old Michael Sangbong Rhee for kidnapping with the intent to commit a sexual assault against a woman at an apartment complex. pic.twitter.com/bYvPsLE5TK
— Irvine Police Department (@IrvinePolice) April 10, 2021
Rhee returned to his vehicle and fled the area, but authorities were able to track him down thanks to security footage that showed his license plate number, according to the release. Police said investigators found a BB gun at Rhee’s house that matched the victim’s description of the handgun.
“Based on the totality of the investigation and statements made by Rhee, detectives believe he targeted the victim because he thought she was white,” the release stated. “Detectives also believe the assault was in retaliation to hate crimes committed against the Asian community.” (RELATED: Here’s What Joe Biden Is Missing About The Wave Of Anti-Asian Crime)
Hate crime charges will be added in complaints filed against Rhee, who currently faces charges of kidnapping with intent to commit sexual assault, according to the Irvine Police Department. His bail has been set at $1 million.