An Indiana man who in 2016 was found with an assault rifle and a container of chemicals in his car, possibly with the intent of going to L.A. Pride, was sentenced to seven years in prison, authorities announced Thursday.
James Howell, 22, pleaded no contest to counts of unlawful assault weapon activity and possession of a destructive device, according to a news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.
Howell was arrested in Santa Monica on June 12, 2016, after police uncovered the arsenal in his vehicle, the news release said.
While talking to officers, he referenced the annual L.A. Pride event in West Hollywood, raising concern of his intentions just hours after one of the deadliest mass shooting’s in U.S. history occurred at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
The terror attack at Pulse left 50 people dead, including the gunman, and dozens of others wounded.
The Santa Monica incident, however, has no known link to the violence in Orlando, authorities said.
It was never revealed why the defendant may have been headed toward the parade. A tweet from police indicating Howell had wanted to cause “harm” at the event was walked back the same day by officials, who described it as a “misquote.”
When investigators searched Howell’s vehicle, they discovered a 25-pound container of Shoc-Shot, a “binary explosive,” and three rifles, including one loaded with a 30-round detachable magazine and a second 30-round magazine taped to it, according to court documents.
A detective’s statement indicated police also found a Taser, handcuffs, a buck knife, a security badge, a black hood and more ammunition.
Howell apparently came to California over concern of pending charges back in Indiana, according to court documents.
And prior to the Santa Monica case, he was convicted of intimidation in his home state and ordered to forfeit all firearms.