LOS ANGELES — A San Gabriel Valley man accused of driving a truck loaded with weapons into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators in Old Town Pasadena is expected to ask a federal judge Monday to be allowed to await trial from home.
Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, of San Marino, is charged with one count of conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines and to make a false statement in acquisition of firearms.
Hung drove his white Dodge Ram — adorned with flags associated with right-wing extremist groups — at the crowd of about 150 protesters who had been chanting, “Black lives matter here” on May 31, federal agents allege in a complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court.
The crowd scattered as the truck accelerated toward them, and no injuries were reported in the incident.
At his initial court appearance last week, Hung was ordered detained pending a detention hearing Monday to determine his bail status. Hung’s arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 15.
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.
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.
Prosecutors allege Hung used his family’s vineyard in Lodi as a tactical training camp and gun range “to prepare for civil disorders.”
Hung and his associates “communicated regularly about his plans to stockpile firearms to prepare for civil disorders,” the complaint alleges. 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 conspiracy theory that the virus was a hoax, the document states.
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.
Source: Orange County Register