SANTA MONICA—A man was arrested in Santa Monica headed to the Los Angeles Pride Parade in West Hollywood on Sunday, June 12, according to the Santa Monica Police Department. This comes just hours after the 50 person massacre at an Orlando, Florida gay nightclub.
On Sunday morning around 4:59 a.m., the Santa Monica Police Department received a call of a suspected prowler in the 1700 block of 11th Street. The police had been called after the suspect was repeatedly knocking on the doors and windows of residents.
The responding officers found James Wesley Howell, 20, who said he was waiting for a friend, and the officers inspected the suspect’s vehicle. The SMPD told Canyon News that inside the vehicle responding officers found assault rifles, high powered magazines, and tannerite, which can be used to make explosives.
The car was a white Acura with Indiana plates and the suspect said he was going to the LA Pride Parade to meet a friend, according to the Los Angeles Times. Authorities discovered a five gallon bucket with chemicals that can be used to create an explosive in the vehicle.
The SMPD notified the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department Bomb Squad who assisted in safely securing the vehicle and surrounding area. Local law enforcement decided not to cancel the parade that began at 10:45 a.m.
The parade did begin with heavier security including undercover officers in the crowd. There has been no indication of a connection to the Florida massacre. Authorities are still looking for the individual the suspect said he had planned to meet at the parade.
According to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office, Howell was charged with three felony counts and one misdemeanor count. The charges were “one felony count each of unlawful possession of an assault weapon, possession of a destructive device on a public street and manufacturing or importing large magazine and one misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.”
Howell faces up to nine years, eight months in local custody if he is convicted on all four charges. The SMPD told Canyon News that since this is still an ongoing investigation no other details can be released at this time. The SMPD and FBI are collaborating on the investigation.
Anyone with information has been asked to call Detective Dereck Leone at (310) 458-8949, Sgt. Maury Sumlin at (310) 458-8437, or FBI Spokesperson Laura Eimiller at (310) 420-6441 during normal business hours. Anyone who witnesses suspicious activity can call the Santa Monica Police Communications Center at (310) 458-8491 or dial 911 if it is an emergency.