Man Arrested With Weapons Said He Was On Way To L.A. Gay Pride

jameshowellSanta Monica Police

A heavily armed man arrested in Santa Monica, California, Sunday morning told police he was on his way to the L.A. Gay Pride festival.

Identified as James Howell, Santa Monica police arrested the 20-year-old after responding to a report of a suspected tresspasser, who was knocking on a resident’s doors and windows, Santa Monica Police Chief Jacqueline Seabrooks told Buzzfeed News.

When officers spoke with the suspect, he told them he was waiting for a friend, and later admitted to heading to the Gay Pride festival.

Police told reporters that Mr Howell was found to have firearms, three assault rifles, a five-gallon bucket with chemicals, a vest with some type of security badge on it, a gas mask and ammunition, the Independent reports. Other dangerous materials were also found, including tannerite, which can be used to create a pipe bomb.

Howell is currently being held on weapons and explosive materials charges. As a result, the city is on heightened alert.

The sheriff’s department told Buzzfeed News: “Out of an abundance of caution, we have enhanced our security presence for the event and have tactical units at the ready to prevent and respond to any circumstances.”

Eric Garcetti, the mayor of Los Angeles, said that citizens will ‘not shrink back into the closet’, saying: “This is a society we love broadly and openly.”

Police are saying the incident is ‘unrelated’ to the shooting of at least 50 people in Orlando on Saturday, but the sheriff’s department said the FBI is investigating any connection between the suspect and the pride event.