James Howell was stopped by police on Sunday morning, just hours after the Orlando attack
US authorities have revealed that a heavily-armed man was arrested en route to LA Pride, just hours after the devastating attack on Orlando’s Pulse nightclub this weekend.
James Howell, who was detained by police on Sunday morning, was reportedly found with a carload of weapons and explosives. According to reports, locals called the authorities aftering spotting him suspiciously “loitering” around the West Hollywood area shortly before the annual gay pride parade was due to start.
The arrest came just hours after the deadliest mass shooting in US history, which saw a Florida resident known as Omar Mateen open fire in an Orlando gay club. The heartbreaking attack happened in the early hours of Sunday morning, and took the lives of 50 people in the LGBT community, as well as wounding 53 others. LA police claim there is currently no evidence linking the two incidents.
Details on both the intentions and motivations of Howell are currently yet to be clarified. Santa Monica’s police chief, Jacqueline Seabrooks, initially claimed that the Indiana resident had intended to harm people at the LA event, though she later issued a correction on this via Twitter. “James Howell held on weapons and explosive materials charges,” she wrote. “Stated intent: go to Gay Pride event; wrong on initial (report) of wanting to harm.”
According to police spokesman Saul Rodriguez, Howell’s white Acura car was found with three assault rifles, ammunition, and a five-gallon bucket with chemicals capable of forming an explosive device.
“We will not shrink away,” said LA mayor Eric Garcett shortly after Howell’s arrest. “We will not go back to the closets. We are out here to march, to celebrate and to mourn. Today we know we are targeted as Americans because this is a society where we love broadly. We are white, black, brown, Asian, Native American, the whole spectrum.”