Weapons charges filed against man found with arsenal in Santa Monica

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James Howell stood before a judge to face weapon charges filed against him after police said he was found with an arsenal in Santa Monica.

Weapons and explosive charges were filed against the Indiana man bound for the L.A. Pride Festival with an arsenal of weapons and chemicals allegedly stashed in his car.

James Howell, 20, was arrested Sunday after officers found three assault rifles, high-capacity magazines and ammunition, along with a 5-gallon bucket with chemicals capable of creating an explosive device in his vehicle.

Tuesday, Howell stood in front of a judge as prosecutors detailed what investigators found at the scene.

"A black mask, or a hood that could've been used to conceal his face, a taser, a security badge, handcuffs, additional ammunition," Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Sean Carney described.

A request from prosecutors to raise Howell's bail from $500,000 to $2 million was granted. Prosecutors said keeping Howell in custody was a matter of public safety.

"Next to the bucket was an AR-style assault weapon, a round fire from that riffle would have detonated that explosive and would have caused a very large explosion, which could easily have caused GBI (great bodily injury) or death to anyone in the vicinity," Carney said.

Howell's defense argued there was not evidence that showed he had any intent to detonate the chemicals or weapons.

Early Sunday morning, authorities said they received a tip about a possible prowler who was knocking on doors in Santa Monica.

Also, an area resident said her son noticed Howell's white Acura parked against traffic around 3 a.m. near the intersection of 11th Street and Michigan Avenue.

When officers contacted Howell, he told them he was there for the Los Angeles Pride Festival.

Early Tuesday morning, FBI agents and local police spent hours raiding Howell's home in Jeffersonville, Indiana, after a warrant was issued.

Howell's intentions at the L.A. Pride event were unclear.

Howell had previous run-ins with police. He had been ordered to give up his guns in Indiana and didn't have permission to leave that state.

Howell faces three felony counts: Unlawful assault weapon, possession of destructive device on a public street or highway, and manufacturing, importing keeping for sale, giving or receiving a large capacity magazine.

He also faces the misdemeanor charge of carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle in a city.
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