UPDATE: 6:30 PM PT
The Los Angeles Times has amended its original report. “Man arrested in Santa Monica did not tell police he meant to do harm at L.A,” according to the Times’ latest breaking news update.
Police are still inquiring into the suspect’s motives.
Shortly after the anti-gay Islamic terrorist attack in Orlando that left 50 dead and 53 others injured, police in Los Angeles revealed Sunday that they had recently apprehended a male suspect who confessed that he planned to “do harm” at the annual gay pride parade in West Hollywood, California.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks confirmed the arrest on Twitter:
Man told @SantaMonicaPD officer of wanting to harm Gay Pride event during arrest for weapons and explosive materials possession.
— Jacqueline Seabrooks (@SantaMonicaCoP) June 12, 2016
The suspect has been identified as 20-year-old James Wesley Howell, a native of Indiana.
The Los Angeles Times reports:
Early Sunday, Santa Monica police received a call about a suspected prowler who was knocking on a resident’s door and window about 5 a.m. in the 1700 block of 11th Street, Santa Monica police said. Patrol officers responded and encountered Howell, who was sitting in a car registered in Indiana, police said.
Officers inspected the car and found three assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition and a five-gallon bucket containing “chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device,” police said.
The suspect initially told police that he was searching for friend, but later seemed to imply that he was at the gay event for nefarious purposes.
Police have yet to determine if Howell is at all connected the massacre in Orlando. We are “not aware of what the suspect’s intentions were at this point,” said Santa Monica police spokesman Saul Rodriguez at a press conference.
Detectives are continuing to search Howell’s vehicle, a white Acura with an Indiana license plate, for more clues.
According to the LA Times, the suspect’s social media posts are littered with paranoid ruminations about everything from 9/11 to Charlie Hebdo to the “New World Order” and Hillary Clinton. Indeed, the suspect may be a conspiracy-theorist.
LA’s gay pride parade will continue as scheduled. Organizers are intent on moving forward with the event as a defiant gesture against “hate.”