Santa Monica Observer - Community, Diversity, Sustainability and other Overused Words

By David Ganezer
Observer Staff Writer 

Police arrest James Howell, 20 for illegal possession of Explosives, Guns.

SMPD shifts; says Howell never said he intended to do harm at the Gay Pride Parade in WeHo

 

http://www.smobserved.com/story/2016/06/15/news/police-arrest-james-howell-20-for-illegal-possession-of-explosives-guns/1428.html

Police arrest James Howell, 20 for illegal possession of Explosives, Guns.

Santa Monica Police said they arrested James Howell, 20, in Santa Monica Sunday morning for possession of weapons. They originally said he had the intent to harm people at the West Hollywood gay pride event today. Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrook tweeted Sunday evening that Howell said he intended to go to the Gay Pride event, but didn’t specifically say that he intended to harm anyone there.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed three felony charges against James Wesley Howell, 20, as well as one misdemeanor charge, said to Deputy Dist. Atty. Sean Carney. Howell appeared Tuesday morning at the Airport Courthouse, at his arraignment. He plead not guilty to charges of weapons possession. The Judge, holding Howell to be a threat to the public, increased his bail from $500,000 to $2,000,000. He has said he intended to attend Gay Pride in West Hollywood, but hasn't said what he would do with the weapons in his car.

Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a report of a suspected prowler near Olympic Blvd and 11th Street. Howell apparently knocked on doors and said strange things to local residents. Officers responded and found Howell, who told officers he was waiting for a friend. That led officers to inspect his car. There, they found several weapons, a backseat full of ammunition, and a five gallon container filled with tannerite, an ingredient used to create pipe bombs.

An earlier report that he intended to do harm was based on a tweet by Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks. SMPD Lt. Saul Rodriguez said Seabrooks had been given incorrect information. James Howell, 20, of Indiana, told police that he was planning on going to the Pride festival. But Rodriguez said that "as far as motives or his intentions, that statement was never made nor did any officer receive" a statement referring to plans Howell purportedly had, to do harm"

The car had Indiana plates. Howell, a security guard in Indiana, said that he was in town for the Pride event in West Hollywood this weekend. Authorities did not know of any connection between the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando early Sunday morning and the Santa Monica incident. The investigation has been taken over by the FBI.

The parade comes hours after the attack at the Orlando club that killed 50 people. At least 53 were injured in the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman took hostages. The gunman has been identified as 29-year-old radical Islamic terrorist Omar Mateen, a U.S. law enforcement official said. The Islamic State has claimed responsibility for the Orlando attack, the largest mass casualty shooting ever in the United States. The grim record does not include events such as 9/11, which of course were not shootings.

Howell pleaded guilty earlier this year in an intimidation case involving a gun and agreed to surrender his weapons. A friend in Indiana said Howell did not hold any ill will toward gays or lesbians and that his family had been looking for him in recent days.

West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said in a statement that LASD, which is the official law enforcement agency in West Hollywood, will increase up security efforts around Sunday's parade and other festivities. She insists that officials do not believe there is any threat around Sunday's activities (which sounds a bit hollow, no? I mean, personally I wouldn't let my kids go. Just saying.)

"We are hearing absolutely devastating news reports from Orlando this morning," she said. "Gun violence on the LGBTQ family during Pride Month makes me sick. The deadliest mass shooting in America happened to LGBTQ people on Latin night. While we mourn this heartbreaking loss, we must also rededicate ourselves to the fight for full equality for all people. No one is equal unless everyone is equal."

President Obama spoke just before 12, about the events in West Hollywood and Orlando. He added little to our body of knowledge about these events, did not use the word "Islam" or "Moslem", said we must do more to control guns in this country, and wished everyone well at the Gay Pride event in West Hollywood.

 

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