San Marino man accused of driving into protesters allegedly sent arms to training camp for ‘civil disorders’

The Pasadena Police Station.
The Pasadena Police Station.
(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

A San Marino man accused of intentionally driving a truck into a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Pasadena in May has been charged with conspiring to violate firearms laws, U.S. prosecutors announced Wednesday.

Benjamin Jong Ren Hung was arrested Wednesday and charged with one count of conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines and making a false statement in relation to the acquisition of firearms. According to an affidavit, Hung collected weapons and equipment from suppliers across the country and turned his family’s vineyard in Lodi into a training camp “to prepare to engage in civil disorders.”

Pasadena police first arrested Hung on May 31 on suspicion of attempted assault with a deadly weapon after he intentionally drove into a crowd of protesters peacefully demonstrating against racial injustice in Old Town Pasadena, according to an affidavit Diamond Outlaw, a special agent with the FBI, filed with the criminal complaint.

Outlaw stated that about 150 protesters had been gathered at an intersection when a police sergeant “saw the truck accelerate rapidly as it drove toward the crowd, and he saw the protesters, including two plainclothes PPD detectives, sprint out of the truck’s way to avoid being run over.”


The affidavit says that Hung’s truck was decorated with flags related to right-wing extremist groups.

Hung was not charged with attempted assault in relation to the incident, according to Ciaran McEvoy, a public information officer for the U.S. attorney’s office.

That same day, police searched Hung’s truck and found a loaded semiautomatic handgun, various loaded high-capacity magazines, an 18-inch machete, $3,200 in cash, a megaphone and a long metal pipe. He was charged in L.A. County Superior Court with a misdemeanor for carrying a loaded firearm.

The affidavit says that according to interviews with witnesses and social media reports, Hung surveilled the area before the alleged attempted attack.

One witness reported that the night before, they saw a truck resembling Hung’s distinct vehicle by the same intersection. The witness had been in the area to participate in a protest to condemn the killing of George Floyd and had stayed on the street corner with several friends holding a sign after the crowd had dispersed.

The witness said they saw the truck drive past before slowing down and making a U-turn to return to the intersection. The truck, the witness said, accelerated to spew exhaust fumes at them. It then seemed to make another U-turn, scaring and causing the witness and their friends to flee.

Another witness who worked near the area also recalled seeing a truck like Hung’s on May 29 and May 30. Two days before the alleged attack, the witness said that a passenger in the truck had asked them where they could find protests in Pasadena.

The affidavit states that Hung had bragged to associates that same weekend about his efforts to assault protesters, referencing records connected to property seized from Hung during his arrest.

A friend purchased the firearm that had been in Hung’s truck for him in Oregon and transported it to California, prosecutors claim. At the time, the affidavit alleges, Hung’s friend falsely represented that he was the transferee of the gun instead of Hung. Hung kept it at his home in San Marino, the affidavit states.

According to the affidavit, Hung in March bought at least three other firearms in Oregon and transported them to California. It states that he also collected other weapons and equipment from suppliers across the country.

Hung, who will remain detained pending a bail hearing Monday, faces a maximum sentence of five years in federal prison if convicted. An arraignment is scheduled for Oct. 15. It was not immediately clear who is representing Hung.