James Howell Arrested In Santa Monica With Weapons & Explosives
A man arrested in Santa Monica on Sunday with an arsenal of weapons, ammunition, and explosives in his vehicle reportedly had intentions of harming people at a Gay Pride event.
According to tweets from Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks, authorities were responding to a report of a possible prowler when the arrested the suspect, who has been identified as James Howell of Indiana.
Resident called @SantaMonicaPD to report possible prowler which led to arrest of James Howell of Indiana. No known connect to circs in FL.
— Kenneth Semko (@SantaMonicaCoP) June 12, 2016
There is a Facebook page matching the name and location of the suspect including a similar white Acura that was found with explosives and weapons.
Via the L.A. Times:
Federal and local law enforcement decided against canceling the annual parade, which went forward Sunday morning under tightened security. Investigators are now trying to piece together what happened but said they don’t believe there is any connection between the incident and the massacre at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Fla., that killed at least 50 people overnight.
Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a call about a suspected prowler near Olympic Boulevard and 11th Street. Patrol officers responded and encountered an individual who told officers he was waiting for a friend, according to a law enforcement source familiar with details of the arrest. That led officers to inspect the car and find several weapons — including three rifles, one of them an “assault rifle” — and a lot of ammunition as well as tannerite, an ingredient that could be used to create a pipe bomb, said the source. The car had Indiana plates.
Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said the suspect told police he was going to the Pride parade to look for a friend. Authorities are looking for that individual.
Santa Monica police spokesman Saul Rodriguez said detectives are “not aware of what the suspect’s intentions were at this point.”
Neighbors called police after he was spotted knocking on doors and “loitering in the area,” Rodriguez said.
Santa Monica police continued to search the suspect’s white Acura on Sunday morning. All four of the car’s doors were open and a green blanket, red gasoline canister and several other smaller items were being piled on the sidewalk next to it.
One source in West Hollywood said there was discussion of calling off the parade but that officials decided to go forward, with heavy security including undercover officers in the crowd.
The sources spoke to The Times on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to comment publicly.
“They found him with weapons that were very disconcerting,” said one source, adding officials are “taking the appropriate safety precautions.”
The parade comes hours after the attack at the Orlando club. In addition to those killed, at least 53 were injured in the deadliest shooting in modern American history after a gunman took hostages. The gunman, who was killed in a shootout with police, has been identified as 29-year-old Omar Mateen, a U.S. law enforcement official said.
West Hollywood City Councilwoman Lindsey Horvath said in a statement that Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials were stepping up security efforts around Sunday’s parade and other festivities. But she said officials do not believe there is any threat around Sunday’s activities.