The Indiana man arrested on weapons charges while in Santa Monica this weekend for the Los Angeles gay pride festival was additionally charged with child molestation on Wednesday, the Associated Press reports.
Prosecutors told the AP that it was a “logical conclusion” that 20-year-old James Wesley Howell traveled to California to escape the investigation into allegations he had sex with a 12-year-old girl on state forestry property in Indiana last month.
Joseph Greeson, a friend of Howell’s from Indiana, described the suspect as bisexual and said he harbored no ill will towards gays and lesbians. According to Greeson, however, Howell was “lonerish” and may have fled the state due to prior legal trouble.
“He might have got scared because he got in trouble here and stuff,” Greeson told The Indianapolis Star. “He might have just been heading out and then had the guns with him for whatever reason and just, you know, wrong place and wrong time.”
In April, Howell pleaded guilty to misdemeanor intimidation after allegedly pointing a handgun at his neighbors and his boyfriend last year. In exchange for reduced charges, the L.A. Times reports Howell agreed to not own any weapons while on probation.
On Sunday, police say they found three rifles, high-capacity magazines and a 25-pound container of commercially-sold target practice explosives in Howell’s car while responding to reports of a prowler. After initially claiming Howell expressed intent to “harm” the L.A. Pride parade, police later confirmed that he merely referenced the festival.
According to the L.A. Times, Howell was charged with felony possession of an assault weapon, felony possession of explosives on a public highway, felony possession of a high-capacity magazine and misdemeanor possession of a firearm in a car on Tuesday.
“After things went bad, that’s when he started getting violent with me,” Howell’s ex-boyfriend, 17-year-old Zach Hambrick, told The Indianapolis Star. “It didn’t surprise me. It didn’t surprise me at all.”