James Wesley Howell, the Indiana man who was arrested on the morning of the 2016 LA Pride Parade and who is accused of carrying chemicals that could be used for making explosives and assault rifles in his car, has pleaded not guilty to weapons charges.
His arrest, in the 1700 block of 11th Street, near Olympic Boulevard, shocked Los Angeles, coming only hours after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, that left 49 people dead and dozens wounded.
Officers found Howell sitting in a white Acura that had Indiana license plates. During a routine search they discovered three assault rifles with several loaded high-capacity magazines along with a five-gallon bucket, 15 pounds of chemicals and implements used in making devices
Howell told police he was on his way to the LA Pride Festival in West Hollywood.
The sheriff’s department secured the area and a bomb squad was called in without incident.
Later that morning, as the city was reeling from the confluence of events, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, West Hollywood Mayor and the Board of Christopher Street West responded by declaring the Pride parade would go on in memory of the victims in Orlando but on high alert.
Garcetti said citizens won’t “shrink back into the closet. This is a society we love broadly and openly.”
Howell faces a minimum of nine years in prison if convicted and has been held in jail since his arrest.
He is due back in court on April 27.