Crime & Justice
Updated 12:52 p.m.: Man to be charged with illegally possessing guns, explosives before LA Pride event
An Indiana man is due to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon for felony weapons violations after authorities said he was found with three assault rifles and explosive chemicals in his car ahead of West Hollywood's LA Pride Parade and Festival on Sunday.
James Wesley Howell, 20, is scheduled to be arraigned at the Los Angeles County Superior Court's Airport Branch, the District Attorney's Office said in a news release. Prosecutors will be asking a judge for Howell's bail to be set at $2 million.
The District Attorney's Office said it plans to charge Howell with one felony count each of unlawful possession of an assault weapon, possession of a destructive device on a public street, manufacturing or importing large magazine and carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle.
Howell was arrested about 5 a.m. Sunday in the 1700 block of 11th Street, near Olympic Boulevard, by Santa Monica police officers, the District Attorney's office said. Howell was found near his car, which he apparently drove from Indiana, when officers responded to a report of a man knocking on a resident's door and window, the D.A. said.
If convicted, Howell faces up to nine years, eight months in local custody.
The investigation is ongoing.
Federal investigators served a search warrant on Howell's home in Clark County, Indiana, on Monday night, according to the FBI's Los Angeles Field Office, which is conducting a joint investigation with Santa Monica police.
So far no federal charges have been filed, and that investigation continues.
— AP with KPCC staff
7:57 a.m.: Man arrested in LA with guns, chemicals to appear in court
A man arrested in Southern California with three assault rifles who told police he was headed to a gay pride event was tentatively scheduled to appear in court Tuesday, but it wasn't yet clear what charges he'll face, if any.
James Wesley Howell was arrested early Sunday in Santa Monica with the weapons and explosive chemicals 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, 20, 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.
Howell had earlier been ordered by a judge in his home state of Indiana to give up all his guns.
But authorities there said Monday that they didn't make any surprise checks to confirm he was following the probation requirement.
An Indiana probation officer met with Howell of Charlestown, Indiana, three weeks ago, rated him a low-level offender, and had yet to schedule the in-home visit, said James Hayden, chief probation officer in Clark County.
Howell didn't have permission to leave Indiana after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor intimidation charge. Authorities there are seeking to have him returned as a probation violator.
Court records in Indiana and friends depict Howell as a gun enthusiast with a quick temper.
Twice within four days last October he was accused of pulling a gun and making threats. The first incident involved Howell's then-boyfriend and the second a neighbor, identified in police records as Jeremy Hebert.
Howell was charged with intimidation in the case involving Hebert, a conviction that led to his yearlong probation and weapons prohibition.
Hebert remembered Howell being "hot-headed" but said he had no interest in pursuing an intimidation charge against him.
"I wasn't going to ruin his life for it," Hebert said, adding that he was fine as long as Howell didn't return to the neighborhood.
Prosecutors apparently pursued the case without Hebert.
Howell's ex-boyfriend, Richard Hambrick, described Howell as "explosive."
"He's got a lot of anger problems," Hambrick said.
He added that he doesn't know why Howell was in California.
"As far as I know he had no connections there with any family or friends," Hambrick said.
Charlestown police Detective Capt. Chuck Ledbetter said the handgun Howell used in the intimidation case was the only one the department seized from him. A rifle that ex-boyfriend Hambrick said Howell pointed at him a day earlier wasn't seized because no arrest was made at the time, Ledbetter said.
A lawyer who represented Howell in Kentucky said that he is looking for a lawyer in California.
Attorney Bobby Boyd told WDRB-TV that Howell's father is cooperating with the FBI and was shocked by his son's arrest.
— Associated Press reporters Amanda Lee Myers and Dylan Lovan. AP writers Tom Davies contributed from Indianapolis, Claire Galofaro contributed from Jeffersonville, Indiana, and Christopher Weber contributed from Los Angeles.
This story has been updated.