Man accused of driving into Pasadena protesters had amassed guns, set up ‘training camp’ at family vineyard, complaint alleges

LOS ANGELES (KABC) — A San Marino man accused of driving a truck loaded with weapons into a crowd of protesters in Pasadena in May was turning his family’s vineyard into a “training camp” to prepare “to engage in civil disorder,” federal authorities allege.

Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, is charged with conspiring to transport firearms across state lines and to make a false statement in acquisition of firearms. A judge on Monday decided to keep him detained without bail and Hung will not be released from federal custody.

Hung allegedly drove his white Dodge Ram adorned with flags associated with far-right extremist groups at the crowd of about 150 protesters in Pasadena who had been chanting “Black lives matter here” on May 31, federal agents allege in a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.

The demonstrators scattered as the truck accelerated toward them, and no injuries were reported in the incident. Hung was arrested by Pasadena police for attempted assault with a deadly weapon.

During a search of the vehicle, police found a loaded semiautomatic handgun, multiple high-capacity magazines loaded with ammunition, an 18-inch machete, $3,200 in cash, a long metal pipe and a megaphone, the complaint states.

The complaint alleges Hung acquired the handgun from a friend who purchased it in Oregon and then took it to Lodi, California for Hung.

Federal investigators say Hung was collecting weapons and turning his family’s Lodi vineyard into a training camp.

“Hung purchased and then transported at least three firearms from Oregon to Lodi, California in March 2020. Hung also amassed other firearms and tactical equipment from suppliers throughout the United States and used his family’s vineyard in Lodi, California as a training camp to prepare to engage in civil disorders.

“Hung communicated frequently with associates about creating this tactical training camp and firearms range at his family’s vineyard in Lodi, California, and his intent to use the firearms in preparation for civil disorders,” the complain states.

The messages appeared to escalate in early March at the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, as the far-right movement began to propagate the theory that the virus was a hoax, the document states.

According to bystander video and witness interviews, Hung’s truck bore an Oregon license plate that read, “WAR R1G,” prosecutors said. It was also modified with an elevated suspension, large tires, and an enhanced exhaust pipe, which expelled a large plume of black smoke as it accelerated into the crowd, the complaint states.

At the time of the incident, the truck was also flying three large flags: a Thin Blue Line” flag, a Gadsden Don’t Tread on Me” yellow flag, and an original 13 states Betsy Ross” American flag, prosecutors said.

At his initial court appearance last week, Hung was ordered detained pending the detention hearing Monday to determine his bail status. Hung’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 15, and a trial date has not yet been set.

One of Hung’s neighbors in San Marino described seeing the defendant on multiple occasions “wearing military-like camouflage, military fatigues, and carrying a gray tactical vest,” prosecutors said.

Along with the vineyard — whose business name is 157 California Reserve Inc. — Hung’s parents own and operate an RV park in Bend, Oregon, according to the complaint.

If convicted, Hung would face up to five years in federal prison.

City News Service contributed to this report.

Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Source Article

About the author