Cops: Armed Man Planned to Attack LA Pride Parade
James Wesley Howell, 20, arrested in Santa Monica
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jun 12, 2016 4:01 PM CDT
Heriberto Gomez, a lifelong resident of Santa Monica, Calif., was among the first residents to spot a heavily-armed man stepping out of his car at 3am Sunday, June 12, 2016.   (AP Photo/Reed Saxon)
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(Newser) – An Indiana man armed with three assault rifles and chemicals used to make explosives was arrested in Southern California on Sunday and told police he wanted to do harm to a gay pride parade—an event that annually draws hundreds of thousands of people, authorities say. The early-morning arrest in Santa Monica of James Wesley Howell, 20, came just a few hours after at least 50 people were shot and killed in a gay nightclub in Orlando Florida, though authorities said they had found no evidence of a connection between the suspects, the AP reports. Residents called police to report suspicious behavior from Howell, who was parked facing the wrong way in a white sedan, police say. When officers arrived they apparently saw an assault rifle sitting in Howell's passenger seat.

That prompted them to search the whole car. They found two more assault rifles, high capacity magazines and ammunition, and a five-gallon bucket with chemicals that could be used to make an explosive device, police say. Authorities would answer no further questions on Howell or his motives. The FBI has taken over the lead of the investigation from the local police. Heriberto Gomez, a lifelong resident who says he watches over the neighborhood, says he stepped outside at 3am Sunday and saw Howell's white four-door Acura sedan in the street. Gomez says the man then ran across the street and hid in bushes and overhanging trees. It appeared the man was looking back at him. "I was looking at him for a minute, for a long minute," Gomez says. "He didn't want to come my way because he seen me standing right here."