SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities were trying to figure out why an Indiana man had three assault rifles and chemicals used to make explosives some 2,000 miles from home in Southern California, where he told the officers who arrested him that he was headed to a gay pride parade.
James Wesley Howell, 20, told police he was going to LA Pride in West Hollywood, an event that draws hundreds of thousands of people each year. But Santa Monica police and the FBI don't yet know his intentions.
His arrest came just a few hours after 49 people were shot and killed in a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida, though police said they had found no evidence the incidents were connected.
Howell, of Jeffersonville, Indiana, was arrested around 5 a.m. after residents called police to report suspicious behavior by a man who parked his white Acura sedan facing the wrong way. When officers arrived, they saw an assault rifle sitting in Howell's passenger seat, Santa Monica police Lt. Saul Rodriguez said.
They searched the car and found two more assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition, and a five-gallon bucket with chemicals that could be used to make an explosive device, police said.
Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks initially tweeted that Howell told officers he wanted to "harm" the gay pride event, but she later corrected her statement to say that Howell only said he was going to the parade.
Howell's father was shocked by his son's arrest and is cooperating with investigators, said Louisville, Kentucky, attorney Bobby Boyd, who represented Howell in a local case.
Boyd, who asked that the father not be identified, told Kentucky station WDRB-TV (http://bit.ly/25XoJG5 ) that the FBI has contacted Howell's family and they are working to find an attorney in Southern California.
Howell was scheduled to appear in Los Angeles court Tuesday.
In Louisville, he was charged in April with evading police, speeding and reckless driving. He pleaded not guilty after authorities say he fled when an officer pulled him over, court records show.
In Clark County, Indiana, Howell was charged in October with pointing a firearm at someone and with intimidation. He made a deal with prosecutors to plead guilty only to the misdemeanor intimidation charge. He was given one-year prison sentence that the judge suspended in favor of strict probation that prohibited him from having weapons.
A Facebook page that apparently belongs to Howell includes photos of the white Acura he was driving. The postings on the page are unremarkable: There's no enmity toward gays or notable political activism. One post says he's signing a petition to legalize marijuana.
The page's most recent public post, from June 3, shows a photo comparing an Adolf Hitler quote to one from Hillary Clinton. An anti-Clinton, pro-Bernie Sanders photo was posted in February.
The page says Howell worked as an auditor for a company that makes air filters.
A friend of Howell's, Joseph Greeson, 18, said Howell's parents in Jeffersonville had not seen him for days and that they called Greeson's parents looking for him. Greeson told the Los Angeles Times that he and Howell are in a car club together and that Howell had a gun collection.
Greeson also said Howell harbored no ill will for gays or lesbians.
In California, the gay pride event went on as usual, albeit with increased security. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti announced the arrest at the start of the parade and struck a defiant tone.
"We are here as Angelenos, as the LGBT community and allies," he said. "And we will not shrink away, we will not be stuck in our homes, we will not go back into our closets. We're here to march, to celebrate and to mourn."
Carl Oliver of Los Angeles attends the parade every year. He said he cried after hearing about Orlando, but he never considered not coming.
"This is about love," he said. "We have to show our love and unity."
Dalton reported from Los Angeles.
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This is the latest story. The original update is below.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (AP) — A heavily armed man arrested early Sunday in Southern California told police he was in the area for West Hollywood's huge gay pride parade, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said.
Garcetti announced the arrest while attending the kickoff of LA Pride, an event that draws hundreds of thousands of people annually that this year came just hours after at least 50 people were killed by a gunman at a gay nightclub in Orlando, Florida.
A law-enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation told The Associated Press that guns and explosive materials were found in the suspect's vehicle. The person spoke on condition of anonymity, citing a lack of authorization to speak publicly about the investigation.
Police in Santa Monica, where the arrest occurred, would not immediately confirm the incident.
At the scene, police searched a white four-door Acura sedan parked facing the wrong direction on a busy thoroughfare in a mostly residential area of the seaside city west of Los Angeles. There were red plastic gas cans near the car.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's officials said the suspect told police that he was going to the pride parade to look for a friend. Authorities are now looking for that person.
Santa Monica Police spokesman Saul Rodriguez told the Los Angeles Times that detectives are "not aware of what the suspect's intentions were at this point."
Neighbors called police after the man was spotted knocking on doors and "loitering in the area," Rodriguez said.
Garcetti said the arrest came following a tip from a "neighborhood person."
Authorities did not know of any connection between the gay nightclub shooting in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday and the Santa Monica arrest.
Los Angeles County sheriff's officials say they're assisting with the investigation, and there was no immediate threat to Sunday's event.
The organizers of the Pride event said in a statement before the parade that "we are heartbroken that so many of our brothers, sisters and allies were lost in this tragic attack." Organizers said the tragedy made them all the more determined to continue with plans.
"Our brave founders made this happen to show the world who we are," the statement said. "We will be loud. We will be proud, and we will celebrate in honor of all those lost."
Associated Press writers Christopher Weber and Andrew Dalton contributed from Los Angeles.