An Indiana man who told police he was headed to a gay pride event in Southern California last summer, who was found with a loaded assault rifle and chemicals mixed and ready to explode in his car, has pleaded not guilty to weapons charges.
James Wesley Howell, of Charlestown, Indiana, was also charged Tuesday with possessing a destructive device. His attorney declined to comment.
Authorities say Howell was stopped in Santa Monica in June 2016 with a loaded AR-15 rifle and magazines rigged to allow shots to be fired in quick succession. They say he also had 15 pounds of chemicals mixed and ready to explode.
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Howell said he was going to the gay pride event in West Hollywood and was arrested the same day 49 people were killed in the Pulse massacre in Orlando, Fla.
As LGBTQ Nation previously reported, Howell was on probation and didn’t have permission to leave Indiana after pleading guilty to a misdemeanor intimidation charge. Authorities there are still 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 in October 2015 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.
Dawn Ennis contributed to this report.
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