Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, was arrested on September 23 and charged with conspiring to violate firearms laws. Federal prosecutors found pictures of Hung wearing a ‘Three Percenters’ T-shirt, pictured
A California man who drove into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in May was collecting weapons and planned to transform his family vineyard into a civil disobedience ‘training camp’, federal authorities allege.
Benjamin Jong Ren Hung, 28, was arrested on September 23 and charged with conspiring to violate firearms laws after he allegedly organized to transport weapons across state lines from Oregon to California.
He had previously been arrested on May 31 after he allegedly drove his truck loaded with weapons into a crowd of peaceful demonstrators gathered in Pasadena.
Hung, who comes from a wealthy Californian family, had been on the lookout for BLM protesters to intentionally target with his truck, the federal complaint says.
According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles federal court, Hung drove his white Dodge Ram adorned with flags associated with far-right extremist groups at the crowd of about 150 protesters.
Prosecutors said that Hung’s truck bore an Oregon license plate that read, ‘WAR R1G’ and 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.
Video of the incident shows Hung’s truck appear at speed and drive directly toward protesters before turning into the crowd gathered at an intersection.
The truck has been 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 protesters.
After Hung tried to run over protesters in Pasadena on May 31, cops 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 in the truck
No injuries were reported as the crowd scattered.
‘The victims were forced to run out of the way to avoid being struck,’ the affidavit said.
According to Buzzfeed, undercover cops had been in the crowd of protesters and quickly moved to arrest Hung.
When cops detained him, they 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 in the truck.
He was initially charged with attempted assault with a deadly weapon, but local prosecutors decided to only charge him with a misdemeanor of carrying a loaded firearm for the May 31 attack.
He will appear in state court on that charge at the end of September.
However, federal investigators launched a probe into the origin of the weapons discovered in his vehicle that led to his second arrest this month.
The investigation found that Hung acquired the handgun from a friend who purchased it in Oregon and then took it to Lodi, California, for him.
The 30-acre vineyard, which Hung’s parents have owned since 2013, is based here at 21200 N. Davis Road according to Lodi News and was where he planned to set up his insurrection base.
‘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,’ the complaint states.
‘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.’
Benjamin Jung tried to run into a crowd of BLM protesters in Pasadena on May 31
Hung’s truck was 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 as he drove into the group
The truck has been 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 group of protesters who scattered from his path. There were no injuries reported
Hung was described by some neighbors as an former high school football star. They said the family is generous and community-driven and that they were shocked at the charges leveled against Hung.
According to BuzzFeed, his family have previously hosted Democratic lawmakers and Hung made local news for his fundraising to eradicate polio.
Yet investigators found that for years, Hung had been acquiring firearms across state lines and messaging associates about his training camp.
One neighbor said that they had often seen the defendant ‘wearing military-like camouflage, military fatigues, and carrying a gray tactical vest’.
Others said that they heard gunfire on the vineyard as recently as September 9 and it would last about two hours and occur twice a month.
The vineyard Hung planned to use as a training camp has the business name 157 California Reserve Inc., and is owned by his parents, who are based in San Marino.
Isaac and Celia Hung are the president and secretary of the company respectively. They own a home about 4.5 miles south of the vineyard.
Police quickly stopped Hung and he was placed under arrest
He is charged with a misdemeanor of carrying a loaded firearm for the May 31 attack
They also operate an RV park in Bend, Oregon, and in 2017, purchased a nine-acre piece of property close by with the intent of transforming it into a hotel.
According to footnotes in the complaint, Hung had explained to a friend via email that he enjoyed shooting on the Lodi vineyard because there is a long and flat range to shoot.
It adds that in email conversations with friends, Hung said that if things ‘went down’ they would rendezvous in Lodi. They vowed to build a bunker there and not surrender to any potential intruders.
Federal prosecutors also found pictures of Hung wearing a ‘Three Percenters’ T-shirt.
The far-right militia group has chapters across the country and has been involved in armed, sometimes violent, standoffs with federal agents.
The group has recently focused its anger on Black Lives Matter protests.
According to the complaint, Hung was in contact with others who shared his ideas and was planning with them for a violent insurrection across the country.
‘#QANON storm is upon us. Deep state is in a panic,’ one person texted Hung in March. ‘Going to be f**king bad bro. Better be ready.’
His own text messages revealed that he had been planning since at least 2017, and worked with a person in Oregon to acquire the guns.
The messages began to increase from March as the coronavirus hit, ABC reports, as the conspiracy theory that the virus is a hoax spread.
By the end of May, as the Black Lives Matter movement resurged following the death of George Floyd on Memorial Day, Hung was allegedly on the hunt to interfere with a protest.
Hung’s 30-acre family vineyard in Lodi where he planned to establish his training camp
‘Antifa has been avoiding me or something,’ he texted a group of associates on May 29. ‘I can never seem to find them when I’m out war rigging.’
Those who know the Hung family remained shocked at his actions.
‘I don’t know what happened. I don’t know how he got off track,’ one friend told Buzzfeed. ‘He was always the nicest kid.’
‘That’s just not his family. They’re just not that kind of people. They’re not that kind of family.’
Another family friend added that it was ‘beyond belief,’
Buzzfeed spoke to Hung’s brother Myron who said: ‘I can’t answer anything. This whole thing is just really crazy.’
On Monday, a judge decided not to release Hung on bail and he will be kept in federal custody.
His arraignment is scheduled for October 15, and a trial date has not yet been set.
If convicted, Hung will face up to five years in prison.