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Crime and Puzzlement

Police puzzle over motive of bisexual Indiana man heading to L.A. gay pride festival with assault rifles, bomb materials

Police in Santa Monica, California, say that Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks "was given incorrect information" when she tweeted that a 20-year-old Indiana man arrested in his gun-filled car Sunday morning said he wanted to "harm" the Los Angeles Gay Pride festival in West Hollywood. "That statement never was made," Lt. Saul Rodriguez clarified on Sunday evening. The suspect, James Wesley Howell, "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."

And if police have a motive for why Howell wanted to attend the L.A. Gay Pride festival, carrying three assault rifles, high-capacity ammunition, and a 5-gallon bucket filled with what police call "chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device," they haven't said. The FBI, which has taken over the case, isn't saying anything, either. And the information that has emerged about Howell doesn't offer any obvious explanation.

Court records in Indiana show that Howell was charged last October with intimidation and pointing a firearm at another person, a felony, and pleaded guilty to a lesser misdemeanor charge in April; he was sentenced to a year in jail and agreed to give up his weapons during his probation. In the incident, Howell allegedly pointed a gun at his neighbors, and Indiana's News and Tribune says he once pointed a gun at his boyfriend, too. A friend of Howell's and fellow car enthusiast, Joseph Greeson, tells the Los Angeles Times that Howell had no ill feelings about gays or lesbians, and in fact is bisexual. You can watch CNN's Kyung Lah try to sort out the Howell case below. Peter Weber