Armed man arrested before LA Pride is gay, not supposed to own guns

This June 12, 2016 law enforcement booking photo provided by the Santa Monica, Calif., Police Department shows James Wesley Howell, 20, of Indiana. Police say Howell was the heavily armed man arrested in Santa Monica on his way to a Southern California gay pride parade, who told them he wanted to do harm to the event.

This June 12, 2016 law enforcement booking photo provided by the Santa Monica, Calif., Police Department shows James Wesley Howell, 20, of Indiana. Police say Howell was the heavily armed man arrested in Santa Monica on his way to a Southern California gay pride parade, who told them he wanted to do harm to the event. (Santa Monica Police Department via AP)

CHARLESTOWN, Ind. (AP) — A man arrested in Southern California with three assault rifles who told police he was headed to a gay pride event 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 on James Wesley Howell to confirm he was following the probation requirement.

Howell has a California court appearance tentatively scheduled for Tuesday, but it wasn’t yet clear what charges he’ll face, if any.

He was arrested early Sunday in Santa Monica with the weapons and explosives 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.

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.

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