Man Arrested For Weapons Before LA PRIDE Once Pointed Gun At Boyfriend, According To Report
James Wesley Howell, the man who was arrested Sunday with guns and explosives in his car, has a history of attempted gun violence, including a reported incident where he pointed a gun at his boyfriend.It was initially widely reported that Howell intended to target Sunday's PRIDE parade, though officials have since backpedaled on whether or not Howell had made that intent clear. As authorities continue to investigate Howell's intentions for the weapons and explosives, details about his personal history of violence have emerged.
According to the New York Daily News, Howell allegedly attended high school in Louisville, Kentucky, before working as an auditor at Clarcor Air Filtration Products in Jeffersonville, Indiana.
Cary Goodman, a former co-worker of Howell's, said that he was surprised when he found out Howell may have been targeting a Pride event because he had "mentioned he had a male partner," reports the Daily News, but that Goodman had never met or seen a photo of the alleged partner.
A friend of Howell's, 18-year-old Joseph Greeson told the L.A Times that Howell "harbored no ill will toward gays or lesbians" and said that was bisexual. He also said Howell had a gun collection and that his family in Indiana "hadn't seen him for days."
The Times also writes that this is not the first time Howell has had a weapons-related run-in with the law: Indiana court records show that he was charged with intimidation and for pointing a gun at another person in October 2015. As part of a plea deal, Howell pled guilty to intimidation, and agreed to forfeit all his weapons during his probation period.
A News and Tribune article cited by the Times that said in an earlier incident witnesses saw Howell once point his gun at his boyfriend.
"James is going to get someone hurt," one witness said in the article. "He needs to stop pointing guns at people."
Around 5 a.m. Sunday, KTLA reports, residents on the 1700 block of 11th Street, near Olympic Boulevard in Santa Monica, reported a "possible prowler" after Howell was seen knocking on someone's door and windows.
After 9-1-1 was called, officers found Howell sitting in a car with Indiana license plates, and found "three assault rifles, high capacity magazines, ammunition" and a bucket of the chemical Tannerite, an ingredient often used to make pipe bombs.
Initial reports as to Howell's intent stemmed from a since-deleted tweet from Santa Monica Chief of Police Jacqueline Seabrooks, who said that Howell told police when he was arrested that his intention was to inflict harm upon the Pride celebration. She later tweeted that his intent was not clear.
Lt. Saul Rodriguez told the L.A. Times that Seabrooks' initial tweet was a "misstatement," and that Howell never said anything specific about his intentions during the arrest. "He did indicate that he was planning on going to the Pride festival but beyond anything as far as motives or his intentions that statement was never made," Rodriguez said.
Howell is being held on felony explosives and weapons charges, with bail set at $500,000.