No bail for San Marino man accused of driving truck into crowd of Pasadena protesters – Pasadena Star News

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Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, of San Marino, faces federal charges for allegedly driving a pickup truck that contained a gun and multiple magazines of ammunition into the crowd at a May 31, 2020 protest in Old Town Pasadena. (Image courtesy of US District Court for Central California)
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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 will remain behind bars to await trial, a federal judge ruled Monday.

Benjamin Jong Ren Hung presents a danger to the community and no combination of conditions could be ordered to ensure he would not be a potential threat to others, U.S. Magistrate Judge Patricia Donahue determined.

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.

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Hung drove his white Dodge Ram — adorned with flags associated with far-right 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 demonstrators scattered as the truck accelerated toward them, and no injuries were reported in the incident.

Authorities seized a large cache of weapons and ammunition allegedly belonging to Benjamin Jong Ren Hung of San Marino, who is charged with driving a pickup truck into a group a protesters on May 31, 2020, in Old Town Pasadena. (Photo courtesy of US District Court for Central California)

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.

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.

Smoke is seen coming from a pickup truck that allegedly drove into the crowd during a Black Lives Matter protest on May 31, 2020, in Old Town Pasadena. The truck’s owner, San Marino resident Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, faces federal charges of conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines and making a false statement in acquisition of firearms. The vehicle allegedly contained a loaded gun and multiple high-capacity magazines of ammunition. (Image from KTLA5 video)

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 theory that the virus was a hoax, the document states.

One of Hung’s neighbors in San Marino described seeing the defendant on muliple 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.

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