James Howell has been sentenced to seven years in jail after being stopped by police who discovered he was driving a car laden with weapons on the way to an LA Gay Pride event. The arrest took place mere hours after the Pulse massacre, where a gunman brutally murdered 49 people in a popular Orlando gay nightclub.
In the events which took place in July, 2016, police found three guns, including an AR-15 rifle, with specially modified magazines to transform them into assault weapons capable of firing shots in fast succession, along with 15 pounds of chemicals mixed and ready to be used as explosives. Also in the vehicle were a black hood, a taser, handcuffs, a fake security badge and a five-gallon container of gasoline.
Howell had previously been banned from owning weapons following another conviction for misdemeanour intimidation when he threatened an ex-boyfriend with a rifle.
While police initially reported Howell had admitted to a planned attack on the LA Gay Pride event, they later retracted that statement, saying he only aimed to attend the happening. Howell eventually made a plea deal with prosecutors before being convicted of unlawful assault weapon activity and possession of a destructive device.
While in custody it was later revealed that the defendant was also a suspect in the sexual molestation of a 12 year-old girl. Authorities believed he had fled to California from Indiana when he learned of the investigation.
Howell had been asked by his victim’s mother to drive her daughter to the house of a family friend. On the way, he detoured into the forest which is where the incident took place. The girl’s mother said his underage victim was seduced by Howell with promises of marriage when she was older. Howell had threatened to kill himself and members of the victim’s family if the incident was reported to the police.
He is sentenced to seven years and four months incarceration.
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