SANTA MONICA—An Indiana man was ordered to stand trial on Tuesday, March 14, after being caught with weapons, ammunition and bomb-making materials in his car in Santa Monica on his way to Los Angeles Pride Parade in West Hollywood in June 2016.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Upinder S. Kalra found sufficient evidence to require James Wesley Howell, 20, to proceed to trial on one felony count each of possession of a destructive device on a public street, possession of an assault weapon and manufacturing or importing a high-capacity magazine, along with a misdemeanor count of possession of a loaded firearm in a vehicle, noted Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney.
Howell remains jailed on a $2 million bail while awaiting his arraignment on March 28, 2017, at the Airport Branch Courthouse in Los Angeles.
Howell was arrested by officers from the Santa Monica Police Department in the 1700 block of 11th Street, near Olympic Boulevard around 6 a.m. on June 12, 2016, just hours after a terror attack left 50 people dead, including the shooter, at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida. Officers responded to a report of a man repeatedly knocking on a resident’s door and window. When they arrived, Howell was found sitting in his car.
“When I saw the rifle, I started crying,” said the resident, who asked not to be identified to KTLA. “I thought, the guy is coming to kill me.”
Officers examined Howell’s white Acura sedan which had Indiana license plates and recovered three assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition along with a 5-gallon bucket with chemicals that could have been used to make an improvised explosive device, police indicated. The SMPD notified the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department (LASD) Bomb Squad to assist in rendering the vehicle and area safe. LASD was able to safely secure the vehicle and area.
Howell also had a buck knife, a Taser, a black hood, handcuffs and a security badge in his car, according to court documents.
Howell was accused of threatening his 17-year-old ex-boyfriend and the ex-boyfriend’s co-workers months earlier, the teen informed KTLA. He pointed a rifle at the teen and sent him threatening text messages other times, the individual indicated.
“He would explode violently like that and do things with his guns, so it didn’t really surprise me,” the teen said of Howell’s arrest. “He’s out there with explosives and all these guns, but who carries all these guns in a car and goes to a gay pride event?”
Security was increased at the Los Angeles Pride Parade as a result of the Orlando massacre and Howell’s arrest.
Reports revealed that there was no connection between Howell and the mass shooting in Orlando, Florida which was a direct result of terrorist Omar Mateen.
In October 2015, Howell was charged with intimidation and pointing a firearm at an individual in Clark County, Indiana, according to court records.
The firearm charge was dismissed in a plea agreement and Howell pleaded guilty to intimidation in April 2016. He was ordered to have no contact with the victim and forfeit all weapons during his probation.