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

An armed California man who allegedly drove his truck into a crowd of peaceful racial justice protesters earlier 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 earlier this week in U.S. District Court in California.

In the complaint, an agent with the Federal Bureau of Investigation identified as “Diamond Outlaw” said that Hung was arrested after he allegedly accelerated a Dodge Ram adorned with several flags embraced by right-wing extremists and a license plate that read “WAR R1G” into a crowd.

Image: Benjamin Hung (US District Court, Central California)

Image: Benjamin Hung (US District Court, Central California)

Image: Benjamin Hung (US District Court, Central California)

The 150 or so protesters were in the Old Town section of Pasadena, northeast of downtown Los Angeles, on the afternoon of May 31.

The agent says that 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 allegedly 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.

Hung was charged with attempted assault with a deadly weapon in California superior court. Court records show that he posted $30,000 bond on June 12.

An arraignment and plea are scheduled for Sept. 29. 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.

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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 allegedly called it “our very own shoot house.”

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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 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 says the guns were likely purchased out of state and are being 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 if Hung has a lawyer in his federal case.

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