Man Headed to L.A. Pride Armed With Rifles, Explosives, Finally Sentenced

James Wesley Howell was arrested in 2016 shortly after the Pulse nightclub attack.

An Indiana man discovered driving to a 2016 LGBTQ Pride event armed with various weapons and explosives has been sentenced to more than seven years in state prison, the Los Angeles Times reports.

According to the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, James Wesley Howell, 22, pleaded no contest this week to multiple weapons and explosives charges.

Howell was stopped by Santa Monica police in July 2016 and found with three assault rifles, as well as high-capacity ammunition allowing shots to be fired in rapid succession. He also had 25 pounds of explosive chemicals.

Howell reportedly told police he was on his way to the L.A. Pride event in West Hollywood, just hours after the massacre at Pulse nightclub in Orlando.


Officials say a Taser, Buck knife, security badge, black hood, and handcuffs were also found in Howell’s white Acura sedan.

“I cannot in good conscience think of any reasonable reason that somebody would be traveling across the country with all of these things,” Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz said at the time. Howell, already facing multiple charges in Indiana, then pleaded not guilty to three felony weapons counts.

The Indiana Star reported that friends and an ex-boyfriend say Howell, who once described himself as “a sociopath with an automatic,” is closeted but had never made any violent threats against the LGBTQ community.

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