Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Guns Found before Gay Pride Event; Man Charged

Newspaper article Charleston Gazette Mail

Guns Found before Gay Pride Event; Man Charged

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES - An Indiana man was charged Tuesday with three felony weapons violations after authorities say they found three assault rifles and explosive chemicals in his car before a major Los Angeles gay pride parade. James Wesley Howell, 20, was charged in Los Angeles County Superior Court with possessing an assault weapon, possessing a destructive device on a public street, and importing or manufacturing a large magazine. He was also charged with a misdemeanor count of possessing a loaded firearm in a vehicle.

If convicted of all the charges, prosecutors say Howell could face up to nine years and eight months in prison.

Howell was set to appear in court later Tuesday. Prosecutors were asking that he be held on $2 million bail. It was unclear if Howell had an attorney.

Police say Howell was arrested early Sunday in Santa Monica with the weapons and explosives in a car he apparently drove from Indiana. He told police he was headed to a gay pride event in West Hollywood that attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

It's unclear whether Howell intended any violence at the LA Pride event, but the timing of the arrest - hours after the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida - put police and event organizers on heightened alert.

Federal agents searched Howell's Jefferson, Indiana, home on Monday after obtaining a search warrant, Indianapolis FBI office spokeswoman Wendy Osborne.

Osborne and Indianapolis U.S. attorney's office spokesman Tim Horty said they couldn't give any details on the search.

A message seeking comment from Howell's Kentucky attorney was not immediately returned Tuesday.

Laura Eimiller, an FBI spokeswoman in Los Angeles, said the federal investigation is ongoing.

Howell was not allowed to have weapons or leave Indiana because he was serving a year of probation following an April conviction in his home state on a misdemeanor intimidation charge. …

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