LOS ANGELES: Man Arrested With Explosives On Way To 2016 LGBT Pride Event Sentenced To Seven Years

The Los Angeles Times reports:

An Indiana man who was headed toward L.A. Pride two years ago in a car filled with weapons, explosives and high-capacity magazines was sentenced to seven years in state prison on Thursday, officials said. James Wesley Howell, 22, pleaded no contest to possession of an explosive chemical, malicious possession of a destructive device and illegal weapon activity, according to a news release issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Santa Monica police arrested Howell on June 12, 2016. Inside his car, police found three rifles — including an Anderson Manufacturing AM-15 .223 caliber rifle that police described as an assault weapon — and two 30-round magazines. His arrest created a massive panic as it came just hours after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando, Fla., that claimed 49 lives. Santa Monica police also mistakenly tweeted that Howell intended to harm people at L.A. Pride.

NBC News Los Angeles reports:

During Howell’s arraignment on June 14, 2016, the prosecutor said the defendant had 20 pounds of explosive mix in his car, along with five gallons of gasoline — materials that could create an explosive similar to the one used in the bombing of the Oklahoma City federal building. Some of the materials were already mixed in a bucket in the car, the prosecutor said.

One day after the charges were filed against him in Los Angeles, Howell was charged with sexually molesting a 12-year-old girl in Indiana, the Indianapolis Star reported in 2016.

According to the Star, Indiana officials believe Howell left for California after learning he was under investigation in the molestation case. Citing court documents and the victim’s family, the newspaper also reported that Howell threatened to kill himself, members of the victim’s family and police if they tried to arrest him.