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LA Pride Suspect's Ex-Boyfriend Says He Once Threatened To Shoot Up Workplace
An Indiana man who was arrested Sunday morning in Santa Monica after authorities found three guns and explosives in his car has been charged. The L.A. County District Attorney's Office has charged James Wesley Howell with one count each of possession of a destructive device on a public street, possession of an assault weapon, manufacturing or importing a high-capacity magazine and possession of a firearm in a vehicle, according to City News Service. Jane Robison with the DA's office he previously stated that she wasn't sure what the charges would be, but that, "We anticipate he will be arraigned or at least make an appearance at Airport Court sometime today on state charges."
If convicted as charged, he may face up to nine years and eight months.
Howell, 20, was arrested early Sunday morning after a Santa Monica resident reported a suspicious individual. Police discovered that Howell, who told authorities he was headed to that day's Pride parade in West Hollywood, had assault rifles, ammo, high-capacity magazines and a bucket of chemicals that could potentially be used to make explosives. One of the rifles was allegedly on the passenger seat. It is not clear what Howell's intentions were. Authorities have backpedaled on initial reports that Howell said he intended to "harm" the event, and a friend of Howell's stated that Howell was bisexual and had no resentment towards LGBTQ individuals.
The resident who called police told KTLA that he was banging on her door and windows.
"When I saw the rifle, I started crying. I thought the guy is coming to kill me," she said.
The woman hid in her bathroom and called police.
A 17-year-old man who did not wish to identify himself, but who did reveal that he had dated Howell, told FOX 59 in Indianapolis that he was not surprised Howell had been arrested. He said he had met Howell via a dating app, but their relationship soon soured.
The man said he notified police in October of 2015 when Howell called his workplace and threatened to kill everyone there.
"He had called up there to my job and said that he would come up there and shoot everybody there, kill everybody," the teen said.
Only four days later, the teen said Howell showed up to his home and pointed a gun at him. The following day, he said he received threatening text messages from Howell. That was the last they ever spoke, but the teen said he continued to fear Howell and thought he was looking for him.
"Oh, my God. I can't believe I was with somebody like that. I can't believe that I wasted a month and a half of my life with someone like that. I do feel lucky. He could have hurt me worse than he already did," he said.
That 17-year-old appears to have identified himself in the Indy Star as Zach Hambrick. He told the outlet that he briefly lived in a home with Howell in Charlestown, Indiana, and that Howell had many guns.
"I don't know why he had so many. He didn't hunt. He just had them," Hambrick said.
Howell was arrested and charged with pointing a gun at another person and intimidation in an incident where he was accused of pointing a gun at his neighbor, also in October 2015. The former charge was later dropped and Howell pleaded guilty to intimidation in April of 2016. He was supposed to give up his weapons as part of his probation.
Howell was also arrested in February for attempting to evade police during a traffic stop. According to court documents and a video obtained by IndyStar, Howell was arrested for driving at a speed of 103 mph in a 55 mph zone. When the office who pulled him over tried to get him out of the car, he sped off.
The FBI executed a search warrant at Howell's home in Jeffersonville, Indiana on Monday night, according to the IndyStar. It is not clear if they found anything of interest at this time.
Howell's arrest came only hours after Omar Mateen, 29, shot and killed 49 people at a popular gay club in Orlando.