Indiana man allegedly on way to gay pride parade had explosives, - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Indiana man allegedly on way to gay pride parade had explosives, rifles, handcuffs

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- James Wesley Howell, the 20-year-old Jeffersonville Indiana man arrested with a cache of weapons and allegedly headed to a gay pride event, had a mix of explosives in his vehicle that “posed a grave danger” to the public, according to court records.

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed three felony charges and a misdemeanor against Howell and a judge raised his bond from $500,000 to $2 million.

Santa Monica Police Det. Derek Leone said Howell also had in his vehicle several weapons, including an assault rifle, a Taser, handcuffs, a security badge and a black hood, “which could have been used to conceal” his face,” according to court records.

Howell has been charged with unlawful possession of an assault weapon and ammunition, possession of a destructive device on a public street and misdemeanor possession of a firearm. He has pleaded not guilty.

Police said Howell admitted to officers that he fled Indiana “due to his concerns” over pending criminal charges, according to Leone’s statement in court records.

The statement did not mention that Howell said he was on his way to the L.A. Pride Festival.

It was originally reported that Howell told police he wanted to cause harm at the gay pride event in West Hollywood about seven miles from where he was arrested Sunday, according to a tweet from Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks.

Later however, Seabrooks tweeted that the information was inaccurate. "He said he was going to the event. Other information inaccurate," Seabrooks said in a Tweet Sunday evening. 

Howell was arrested just hours after the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, left 49 people and the gunman dead.

Howell has criminal cases in both Indiana and Kentucky.

Louisville attorney Robert Boyd, who along with Ryan Vantrease, represent Howell in a felony fleeing and evading police case in Jefferson County, said Howell’s family is cooperating with the FBI.

“The father is beside himself,” Boyd told WDRB. “He’s happy that his son is safe and has not been hurt, but obviously shocked by the events. He is doing everything he can to cooperate, trying to work through it and process it.”

In April, Howell took a plea deal in Clark County for pointing a gun at a neighbor--agreeing to give up any weapons.

Just days later, Howell was charged on April 21 with fleeing and evading police, speeding and reckless driving in Louisville. He has pleaded not guilty.

The Clark County Sheriff's Office is also investigating Howell as a suspect in a May 31 sexual assault case.

Howell, who went to Ballard High School, was approached by police at about 5 a.m. on Sunday after a Santa Monica resident called police to say a prowler had knocked on their door.

Upon searching his vehicle, police found a 25-pound container of “Shoc-Shot,” an explosive sold for exploding targets, according to court documents.

“The two ingredients of the … explosive had been mixed together and if subjected to a high velocity impact from a rifle round or other source would have exploded,” Leone wrote.  “I know based on my training and experience that the amount of explosives in the container would have poses a grave danger to both person and property had the explosive been detonated.”

Leone also said Howell has no ties to California and is a flight risk  and “danger to the community.”

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