News & Politics

Man Headed to L.A. Gay Pride Event With Guns, Explosives Was Fleeing Child Molestation Arrest

Police say an Indiana man who was arrested on his way to a gay pride parade in Los Angeles on Sunday was fleeing his home state after learning that he was being investigated for child molestation, IndyStar reported. On Wednesday he was officially charged with sexually abusing a preteen girl.

James Howell was stopped by police in West Hollywood on Sunday with what police say was an “arsenal” in his car. He told police he was on his way to the gay pride festival. His arrest came just hours after the terror attack by Omar Mateen on Pulse, a gay bar in Orlando.

Clark County, Indiana, Prosecutor Jeremy Mull told IndyStar, “[Howell] understood that this child molesting investigation was ongoing and he was in imminent danger of being arrested.”

From IndyStar:

The alleged molestation happened just days before Howell was last seen in Indiana.

According to a probable cause affidavit filed in the case, and interviews conducted by IndyStar with the victim’s family, Howell was supposed to take the girl to a family friend’s house on May 31.

Before dropping her off, according to court documents, Howell parked the car in Indiana’s Clark State Forest and began kissing and undressing the juvenile.

“At the park, they crawled in the back seat (of Howell’s car) and did things they should not have been doing,” the victim’s mother told IndyStar. IndyStar typically does not name people who are or may have been victims of sexual assault.

The girl does not understand why Howell is in trouble, her mother said. Her daughter considered Howell as a boyfriend, and “she doesn’t see herself as being sexually abused.”

The daughter told investigators that she “was never forced” to have sex with Howell, court documents said. The two spoke about getting married after the girl grew old enough, the mother said.​

In the days following the incident, Howell started threatening to kill himself and members of the victim’s family​, according to court documents and the victim’s family. And if police officers attempted to arrest him, he would kill them, too.

Howell sent a message to someone close to the victim, according to documents, saying Howell was a “sociopath with an automatic.”

Howell’s criminal history contains run-ins with others in which similar threats are made.

On June 7, investigators questioned Howell about the alleged abuse. However, when he asked for an attorney, he was released, IndyStar reported. Five days later he was arrested in Los Angeles, where he remains on a $2 million bond. Howell is facing 17 years in prison for assaulting the minor in Indiana, and more than nine years in California on felony charges of possession of explosives on a highway, possession of an assault weapon, and possession of high-capacity magazines. He was also charged with a misdemeanor for possession of a firearm in a car.

Next page: Find out exactly what Howell was packing in his car. 

When Howell was arrested on Sunday police found a cache of weapons, explosives, and other gear in his vehicle. According to court documents Howell was in possession of:

  • Twenty-five pounds of Shoc-Shot, an explosive used for blowing up targets. The two components needed to make it explosive had been mixed.
  • An Anderson Manufacturing AM-115 .223-caliber rifle. The rifle had a round in its chamber and additional rounds in a 30-round magazine attached to it. Another 30-round magazine was taped to the rifle.
  • A .30-06 bolt-action rifle with a round in its chamber.
  • A .22-caliber Ruger semi-automatic.
  • A black hood
  • Taser
  • Handcuffs
  • Buck knife
  • Security badge
  • Additional ammo for the rifles
  • 5-gallon container of gasoline

According to a report obtained by the Los Angeles Times, a restraining order against Howell in Indiana prohibits him from possessing firearms.