Suspect with guns did not threaten LA Pride parade, police now say

feuer-at-pride2016.jpgLos Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer riding in Sunday's LA Pride parade. Via Twitter.

After the latest horrible gun massacre by an angry American man, in Orlando on Sunday, the word went out that a man stopped by Santa Monica police with a carful of weapons and explosives said he planned do harm at today's West Hollywood gay pride parade. That increased anxiety to super high levels, obviously, but by the end of the day the Santa Monica police were saying the threat never happened and it was all a mistake attributed to a tweet by that city's chief of police. The parade went off without any serious incident.

The man, a visitor from Indiana, was found with a suspicious amount of firepower and explosives in his car, and he apparently did say he was going to the parade. He was arrested. But the verbal threat reported early Sunday on twitter by Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks was not made, per Santa Monica police.

Here's the LA Times coverage:

Lt. Saul Rodriguez said later the tweet was a misstatement. He said the suspect told investigators that he was going to the Pride festival but said he did not make additional statements about his intentions.

"It was a misstatement," Rodriguez said. "Unfortunately, she was given incorrect information initially, which indicated that that statement was made; however, that statement never was made. He did indicate that he was planning on going to the Pride festival but beyond anything as far as motives or his intentions that statement was never made nor did any officer receive that statement."

Police identified the suspect as James Wesley Howell of Indiana. A Facebook page for someone with the same name in Indiana shows a young man posing next to a white Acura with the same license plate as the car searched in Santa Monica for the weapons and explosives.

At a news conference Sunday afternoon, police stressed they were still trying to figure out what Howell planned to do with the weapons.

Howell, 20, has a history of breaking gun laws in Indiana, and earlier this year was placed on probation and ordered to surrender his guns in lieu of serving of a one-year prison sentence. The weaponry in his car included three assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition and a 5-gallon bucket containing “chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device,” police said, per the LAT.

Howell apparently told police he was going to attend the pride event in West Hollywood.

The incident in Santa Monica came as Americ was waking up to news of the country's deadliest mass shooting ever: 50 people killed and another 53 wounded at a gay nightclub in Orlando by a lone gunman. Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old American born in New York, had been investigated previously by the FBI for suspected ties to Middle East terrorists. No crime was found and he was allowed to keep his Florida gun license. In recent days he legally bought at least two guns.

Matteen, who is a practicing Muslim, had expressed hatred of gays according to both his father and ex-wife, and both said they had no reason to suspect he had become radicalized.

Here's the top of the New York Times website right now.


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