A gay man who was found by authorities in Santa Monica, Calif., with a stash of weapons and ammo just hours before the 2016 Los Angeles Pride Parade pleaded no contest to three charges in a Los Angeles court Wednesday, reports local TV station KABC.
James Wesley Howell, 22, was sentenced immediately to seven years and four months in state prison for one count each of unlawful assault weapon activity, possession of a destructive device on a public road or highway, and possession of a destructive device.
Howell was arrested June 12, 2016, just hours after the Pulse nightclub shooting in Orlando. Police were responding to a call about a prowler in Santa Monica and found that in his Acura sedan with Indiana license plates, Howell had three assault rifles and high-capacity magazines.
Also in Howell's possession: a five-gallon bucket with chemicals that could have been used to improvise an explosive, a buck knife, a Taser, a black hood, handcuffs, and a security badge. At the time of his arrest, Howell told detectives he was planning to attend the Pride celebration in West Hollywood later that day.
According to his ex-boyfriend Zach Hambrick, Howell was gay himself. “He didn’t like anybody to know about it,” Hambrick told the Star about their increasingly volatile relationship, "After things went bad, that’s when he started getting violent with me."
Howell left for California after learning he was under investigation for molestation, Indiana officials told the Star. He also threatened to kill himself, members of the victim's family, and police if they arrested him.
When asked about Howell's arrest, Hambrick said, “It didn’t surprise me. It didn’t surprise me at all.”