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Man going to gay pride event had assault rifles, 15 pounds of chemical explosives

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Police found a loaded assault rifle with magazines rigged to allow 60 shots to be fired in quick succession, along with 15 pounds of chemicals mixed and ready to explode in the car of an Indiana man who said he was headed to a gay pride event, authorities revealed Tuesday.

James Wesley Howell, 20, of Charlestown, also had two other loaded rifles, ammunition, a stun gun, a buck knife and a security badge when he was arrested early Sunday in Santa Monica, they said.

Howell made his initial court appearance Tuesday and pleaded not guilty to three felony weapons and ammunition charges. The judge set bail at $2 million.

Alone, each item found in Howell’s car might not indicate anything sinister, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Keith Schwartz said. But together, they “just don’t pass the common sense test.”

“I cannot in good conscience think of any reasonable reason that somebody would be traveling across the country with all of these things,” he said.

Howell recently drove from Indiana to Los Angeles because of pending charges against him in his home state, according to statements he made to police.

Authorities haven’t disclosed any evidence that Howell intended violence at the LA Pride event in West Hollywood that attracts hundreds of thousands of people.

Friends in Indiana described Howell as a gun enthusiast with a short temper.

 

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