Man who drove into California protesters used vineyard as 'tactical training camp,' officials say

An armed California man who is alleged to have driven his truck into a crowd of peaceful racial justice protesters this year was using his family’s vineyard as a “training camp” to prepare for “civil disorders,” federal authorities said Wednesday.

Benjamin Hung, 28, was charged with one count of conspiracy to transport firearms and making a false statement in acquisition of firearms, according to a criminal complaint filed this week in U.S. District Court for Central California.

In the complaint, an FBI agent named Diamond Outlaw said that Hung was arrested after he accelerated a Dodge Ram adorned with several flags embraced by right-wing extremists and a license plate that read “WAR R1G” into a crowd in Pasadena, northeast of downtown Los Angeles.

Image: Benjamin Hung (U.S. District Court for Central California)
Image: Benjamin Hung (U.S. District Court for Central California)

The 150 or so protesters were in the Old Town section of Pasadena on the afternoon of May 31.

The agent says the protesters, who were chanting “Black lives matter here,” ran out of the way to avoid being hit. After being detained by local police, Hung told authorities that he felt threatened after protesters threw things at his truck, according to the complaint.

No evidence corroborated Hung’s account, the agent says, and officers who searched his truck found a loaded Glock handgun, a 15-round magazine, a machete, an 18-inch metal pipe, a megaphone and $3,200 in cash, according to the affidavit.

Hung was charged with attempted assault with a deadly weapon in state Superior Court. Court records show that he posted $30,000 bond June 12. An arraignment and plea are scheduled for Tuesday.

The records don’t list a lawyer, and Hung couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday night.

According to the federal complaint, Hung stayed in San Marino, near Pasadena, and Lodi, south of Sacramento, where his family has a vineyard.

The complaint describes the vineyard as a “tactical training camp” and shooting range that Hung and others planned on using amid a spike in conspiracy theories related to the coronavirus pandemic. In a text message cited in the complaint, Hung is alleged to have called it “our very own shoot house.”

In a photo included in the complaint, Hung can be seen wearing a shirt with the logo of the 3 Percenters, a far-right militia group.

The complaint alleges that Hung was stockpiling weapons. A photo that authorities said they obtained from his iCloud account that was included in the documents shows assault rifles, semi-automatic pistols, magazines, ammunition, a tactical vest, binoculars, a rifle scope and other equipment.

The agents say the guns were likely purchased out of state and kept at the home in San Marino.

Hung was charged with illegally acquiring the Glock found in his truck and buying three out-of-state guns that he brought to California.

It wasn’t immediately clear whether Hung has a lawyer in his federal case.

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