The heavily-armed man who told Santa Monica police he was heading for the LA Pride event on Sunday has been formally charged with possession of an assault weapon and explosives, TheWrap has learned.
James Wesley Howell received one felony count each on Tuesday of unlawful possession of an assault weapon, possession of a destructive device on a public street and manufacturing or importing a large magazine, as well as one misdemeanor count of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle, per the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office.
If convicted Howell faces up to nine years, eight months in prison. He will be arraigned later on Tuesday in L.A. County Superior Court’s Airport Branch. Prosecutors are asking that his bail be set at $2 million.
Police found three assault rifles and a five-gallon bucket filled with chemicals in a car belonging to Howell, who was arrested ahead of the LA Pride parade on Sunday.
The Santa Monica Police Department, which initially said it believed the suspect intended to attack the annual West Hollywood parade, recanted that statement late Sunday.
In a revised statement, authorities said that Howell did not intend to “harm” attendees at the parade but merely wanted to attend the event, which draws thousands to support the LGBT community.
Howell’s arrest came hours after Omar Mateen killed 49 people at a gay night club in Orlando, the deadliest shooting in U.S. history. Howell was arrested last October for pulling a gun on one of his neighbors in Indiana, TMZ reports.