James Howell was arrested on Sunday by authorities in Santa Monica, California, who found him sitting in a car filled with weapons and ammunition. Authorities confirmed they confiscated assault rifles, high-capacity magazines, and a 5-gallon bucket of explosive chemicals from the young man’s vehicle. At the time of his arrest, the 20-year-old man admitted he was on his way to the L.A. Gay Pride Festival.
The situation was specifically unsettling, as it occurred only hours after Omar Mateen, 29, opened fire at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, killing 49 people and wounding 53 others.
Authorities said it is still unclear what James Howell intended to do with the weapons. However, they revealed his prior behavior suggests he is hot-tempered and has a history of intimidating people with weapons.
Howell’s former neighbor, Jeremy Hebert, said he was threatened by the young man on numerous occasions. In his opinion, James is “young, dumb and having a mouth on him.”
According to the L.A. Times, Howell was stopped by police on Sunday morning at approximately 5:00 a.m.
Authorities said they received a call from a Santa Monica resident, who complained that someone was knocking on his front door and windows. As reported by IndyStar, police arrived minutes later and found Howell sitting in his vehicle with a cache of weapons and chemicals commonly used to make explosive devices.
While he was being arrested for possessing loaded firearms, high-capacity magazines, and the components to build an explosive device, James Howell said he was planning to go to the L.A. Gay Pride Festival.
FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said the suspect will remain in “state custody while investigators consult with prosecutors at the district attorney’s office in Los Angeles and the United States attorney’s office to determine whether [he] will be charged at either the state or federal level in relation to the weapons and other items found in his vehicle.”
James Howell is currently being held on a $500,000 bail bond and is scheduled to appear in court on Tuesday.
— Us Weekly (@usweekly) June 13, 2016
Prior to his most recent arrest, Howell reportedly threatened people with firearms on numerous occasions. The first threat was reportedly made on October 11, 2015.
According to reports, Howell threatened Richard Hambrick, who was allegedly dating the suspect. As stated in court records, police officers were called to a McDonald’s in Charlestown, Indiana, where the manager confirmed Howell threatened to shoot his boyfriend when he got off work.
— Bennett Haeberle (@bhaeberle) June 14, 2016
Days later, police officers were called to James Howell’s house in Charlestown. According to reports, Hambrick went to his ex-boyfriend’s house to gather his belongings. However, when he entered the yard, Howell emerged from the house and pointed an “AR rifle” at him and asked him to leave.
Howell told police officers that he never pointed the weapon at Hambrick.
“I kept the gun pointing toward the sky up on my shoulder.”
Witnesses confirmed James Howell’s version of the events.
The third incident happened just one day later. Neighbors said Howell had pulled a.44 caliber Smith and Wesson handgun on his neighbor, Jeremy Hebert, who was arguing with one of his roommates.
According to witness reports, another neighbor became verbally agitated because she believed someone was spreading rumors. Hebert was reportedly approaching the woman to sort out the misunderstanding when James Howell emerged from his home with the weapon drawn and pointed at his neighbor. Hebert’s wife called 911, and Howell was subsequently arrested by police.
In April, James reached a deal, in which he pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of intimidation in exchange for prosecutors dismissing the firearm charge. Although he was sentenced to a year in state prison, Howell’s sentence was suspended because he agreed to forfeit all weapons at his disposal.
Hebert said he was shocked to hear James Howell was arrested again with weapons in his possession. “I would have never have thought he would go out there to do something like that, but you just can’t never tell with some people,” he said.
[Image via ABCLocal]