A second man was behind bars Wednesday in connection with a melee that erupted during an anti-President Donald Trump protest on the Santa Monica Pier, during which two men allegedly discharged a “pepper/bear spray.”
Joseph Krongchana, 43, of San Gabriel, was arrested Thursday and was booked on suspicion of “use or possession of tear gas,” according to the sheriff’s department and the Santa Monica Police Department. He was being held on $25,000 bail.
Santa Monica police Lt. Candice Cobarrubias said Wednesday that detectives served a search warrant at Krongchana’s home, and “during the search, evidence was recovered, which included chemical spray canisters similar to what was used on the pier” during the Oct. 19 clash.
Krongchana and co-defendant David Nicholas Dempsey, 32, of Sherman Oaks, have pleaded not guilty to one count each of use of tear gas and unlawful tear gas activity, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
The charges against Dempsey include an allegation that he has five prior convictions for crimes including second-degree burglary dating back to 2006.
The two men are due back in court Jan. 15, when a date is scheduled to be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence for the case to proceed to trial.
Dempsey was arrested on the day of the protest by Santa Monica police following the alleged attack on anti-Trump demonstrators, and has remained behind bars since then, according to jail records.
The protest began on the beach around noon that day, with demonstrators setting up a large anti-Trump banner in the sand spelling out “Trump Pence Out Now.”
At about 2 p.m., protesters moved from the beach to the Santa Monica Pier and were confronted by a crowd of several dozen pro-Trump counter-demonstrators, according to a YouTube video shot by a group known as “Be less Stupid.”
The demonstration degenerated into chaos, with pushing and shoving ensuing.
“At some point during the confrontation, two subjects began to spray the crowd with pepper/bear spray in indiscriminate directions,” Cobarrubias said Wednesday. “One subject was detained and arrested at the scene — David Dempsey. During the investigation, the second subject was identified as Krongchana …”
The YouTube video showed a canister being wielded by a man wearing a backwards Make America Great Again hat being sprayed into the Trump protesters’ faces as people began dropping to the ground and scattering.
Although Dempsey was charged with using tear gas, a Santa Monica police spokeswoman said the substance was actually bear repellent.
The Trump protest was organized by the group RefuseFascism.org and coincided with other protests held across the country that day, including New York City.