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$2M bond set for IN man arrested with cache of guns, chemicals before L.A. Pride

RAW: Judge sets James Howell's bond at $2 million
Published: Jun. 14, 2016 at 7:52 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 15, 2016 at 3:32 AM EDT
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Authorities removed items from Howell's parents' home in Jeffersonville, IN Monday night....
Authorities removed items from Howell's parents' home in Jeffersonville, IN Monday night. (Source: WAVE 3 News)

LOS ANGELES, CA (WAVE) - A 20-year-old Jeffersonville, IN man who told police he was on his way to the Los Angeles gay pride parade with firearms and chemicals used to make bombs in his car was charged Tuesday with unlawful possession of an assault weapon and explosives among other charges.

A not guilty plea was entered on behalf of James Wesley Howell on Tuesday.

Howell was arrested about 5 a.m. local time Sunday in Santa Monica. A news release from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office said Howell was found near his car when officers responded to a report of a man knocking on someone's door and window.

Police who examined Howell's white Acura sedan with Indiana plates recovered three assault rifles, high capacity magazines and ammunition along with a five-gallon bucket containing chemicals that could have been used to make an improvised explosive device, investigators said. A bomb squad was called to make sure the vehicle and surrounding area were safe.

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During Tuesday's court hearing the judge also listed additional items found in Howell's vehicle including a 5 gallon container of gasoline, a black hood, a taser, handcuffs, a buck knife and a security badge.

"All of these things taken in conjuncture pose a significant public safety danger. I cannot in good conscience think of any reasonable reason that someone would be traveling across the country with all of these things as indicated," the judge told the court on Tuesday. "It just doesn't make any sense."

A spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department said Howell told officers on the scene that he was headed to the Los Angeles gay pride parade in West Hollywood but did not state that he planned to do harm there.

Howell has been arrested numerous times in southern Indiana. His most recent arrest came in October 2015 when he was accused of intimidation and pointing a firearm at another person. He accepted a plea deal in the case in April, the terms of which required him to forfeit all firearms for one year.

It is not believed that Howell's alleged actions are connected to those of Omar Mateen, the gunman who killed 49 people and injured 53 others in an early morning massacre at Pulse Nightclub in Orlando, FL hours before Howell's arrest.

Howell attended Kammerer Middle School and Ballard High School in Louisville.

Howell's bond was set at $2 million. He is scheduled to appear back in court on June 29.

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