On the same morning as the Orlando nightclub shooting, police arrested a man near the L.A. Pride Parade with a cache of guns in his car. As of yesterday, what we know of him is that his car’s license plates were from Indiana, the man had said that he was planning on attending the parade and waiting for a friend, and that locals called the police because he looked like a “suspected prowler.” Now, Santa Monica police have released the suspect’s name and more details about his background.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the suspect is named James Howell, and he’s 20 years old. Police found three assault rifles, as well as high-capacity magazines and ammunition in his car. They also found chemicals that could be used for bomb-making, including an ingredient commonly found in explosives called Tannerite. Howell is currently being held on $500,000 bail, and police are still trying to determine his motive. They are also looking for the friend that Howell said he was supposed to meet.
This isn’t Howell’s first run-in with guns and the police. Back in Indiana in October 2015, Howell was charged with “intimidation with a deadly weapon and pointing a loaded firearm at another person.” In that incident, an ex-boyfriend alleges that Howell pointed an AR-style rifle at him. In April of this year, he pleaded guilty to a lesser charge and was sentenced to one year in prison and put on probation. He had agreed to give up his weapons while on probation.
Howell’s friend said that he was bisexual and had no ill will towards the LGBT community. His apparent Facebook page shows posts comparing Hillary Clinton to Adolf Hitler and discusses conspiracy theories.
While the country mourns the Orlando nightclub shooting, it’s a huge relief that police were able to stop Howell from doing whatever he was planning on doing. So far, this incident further underscores how vulnerable the LGBT community is after recent progress and how easy it is for Americans to obtain and use firearms, especially assault weapons.