LA Pride Suspect Arrested With Car Full of Weapons Wanted on Molestation Charges: Prosecutors
The Indiana man arrested while en route to Los Angeles Pride on Sunday after cops say he had a weapons aresenal in his car was fleeing child sex abuse allegations in his home state, prosecutors say.
James Wesley Howell, 20, has already pleaded not guilty to three felonies and a misdemeanor after he was arrested early Sunday, when police say they found the weapons cache in his car.
On Tuesday, the Clark County, Indiana prosecutor's office revealed they've charged Howell with having sex with an underage girl just days before his arrest in Santa Monica.
"I believe he left the state of Indiana and went to California because he understood that this child molesting investigation was ongoing and he was in imminent danger of being arrested," Clark County Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told IndyStar.
The report offered no further details of the alleged crime. A message left with the Clark County Prosecutor was not immediately returned Wednesday afternoon.
In an LA County Court on Tuesday, Howell pleaded not guilty to possession of explosives on a highway, possession of an assault weapon and possession of high-capacity magazines.
While police in Santa Monica initially indicated that James Howell meant "to harm" the LGBT event in West Hollywood, the office later clarified that Howell's intentions are not clear.
He reportedly told police he was headed to the LGBT event when he was arrested just hours after the deadliest mass shooting in U.S. history.
What police say is clear, however, is that Howell had three assault rifles, high capacity magazines and a five-gallon bucket of a chemical "capable of forming an improvised explosive device," police said.
Compounding fears was the horrific attack 2,500 miles away in Orlando earlier in the day, where a gunman killed 49 people in a gay club early Sunday morning.
Howell's car was registered in Indiana, where the LA Times reports his family in Jeffersonville hadn't seen him in days.
Howell was arrested at 5 a.m. Sunday after a Santa Monica resident reported a suspect was knocking on their door and window.
The weapons were discovered in his car at the time of Howell's arrest, police said in a statement.
Following the Orlando incident, West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said in a Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials were stepping up security at the annual event. It was unclear if that was connected to Howell's arrest.