A California man who is accused of plowing his truck through a crowd of Black Lives Matter protesters in Pasadena earlier this year was preparing for a larger attack, according to federal officials.
As the Washington Post reports, Benjamin Jong Ren Hung was charged last week with conspiracy to transport firearms across state lines, as well as making a false statement regarding the purchase of firearms. On Monday, the 28-year-old was denied bail, meaning he will be held in federal custody until his arraignment on Oct. 15.
Pasadena Police arrested Hung on May 31, shortly after he drove his Dodge Ram truck through a crowd of about 100 people who had been peacefully protesting in Old Town Pasadena. Just days earlier, footage of George Floyd’s death at the hands of Minneapolis police caused nationwide outrage and demonstrations.
But when police searched Hung’s car, they found a number of firearms suggesting Hung had much bigger plans in mind. According to the Post, which cites an FBI affidavit, authorities found “a loaded semiautomatic handgun, high-capacity magazines loaded with ammunition, a machete, a long metal pipe and a megaphone.”
Court documents also say witnesses saw Hung in the area of the attack days before. The truck Hung drove also bore three flags associated with far-right extremist groups. While no one was injured by the truck, officials say Hung had much larger plans in mind.
From the Post:
Federal officials say Hung had amassed an arsenal of firearms and tactical equipment and used his family’s vineyard in Lodi, Calif., as a training camp “to prepare to engage in civil disorders.” A photograph from Hung obtained by investigators showed six firearms displayed on a table along with large number of rifle barrels, magazines, ammunition of various calibers and a tactical vest with assault rifle magazines.
On the weekend of the alleged attack, Hung bragged about his efforts to assault protesters, according to the affidavit. He had also communicated to his associates about creating a “tactical training camp and firearms range at his family’s vineyard and his intent to use the firearms in preparation for civil disorders,” the court document said.
The charges against Hung are in line with a disturbing trend of right-wing militias and vigilantes using racial justice protests to further violence and discord, whether it’s by attacking protesters themselves or using the rallies as cover to attack federal authorities, as is the case with suspected killer Steven Carrillo. In fact, a recent Vice report found out of 26 instances where someone brandished a weapon at a Black Lives Matter protest, 21 incidents were targeting Black Lives Matter demonstrators.
If convicted, Hung could face up to five years in federal prison.