The man planning to visit LA Pride who was arrested in Santa Monica with explosive material and guns on June 12 apparently had already attended the LA Pride festival in West Hollywood the day before.
Justin Randall, an attorney with the Glen Lerner law firm, said he and other Glen Lerner employees were at the firm’s booth at the LA Pride festival in West Hollywood Park in the afternoon on Saturday, June 11, when they saw a man “creepily lurking in front of the booth for a while. We thought this guy was weird.”
Randall said he realized who the man was later when he saw a photo of him after his arrest on Sunday. “The weird thing was he had a red backpack and a hoodie on,” Randall said. “We thought it was weird. Why would you have a hoodie on in warm weather? He just walked back in forth between a couple of booths. The chamber’s (West Hollywood Chamber of Commerce) was next to ours.”
The man, James Wesley Howell, 20, is a resident of Indiana. Someone in Santa Monica called the police to report suspicious behavior by Howell early Sunday morning. Officers investigated and inside his car found “5 lbs. mixed tannerite type powder with assault weapons, long rifles, clips loaded and taped together, camouflage outfit, and a security badge,” according to a message from a Santa Monica police officer. Tannerite is an explosive powder that can be purchased legally in the United States and has been involved in a number of deaths. Howell told the Santa Monica police that he was planning to go to LA Pride in West Hollywood that Sunday.
Howell’s arrest was particularly alarming given that it occurred only hours after the massacre of 49 LGBT people and their friends at a gay bar in Orlando, Fla., and hours before thousands of people were expected at the LA Pride parade and festival in West Hollywood.
The L.A. County Sheriff’s Department, the FBI and the Los Angeles City Police Department stepped up security at the annual Pride event as a result of Howell’s arrest. Howell had been charged in Indiana with having sex with a 12-year-old girl. Jeremy Mull, the prosecutor in the Indiana case, was quoted as saying he believed Howell fled to California after getting a call from police and being interviewed about having sex with the girl.
Howell, 20, has been described as bi-sexual, and a former boyfriend has said he had become violent at times.