Indiana man arrested in California after weapons found in car had history of domestic disputes with ex-boyfriend

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CLARK COUNTY, Ind. — A southern Indiana man who was arrested in Santa Monica after authorities found weapons and possible explosives in his car has a history of domestic disputes with his 17-year-old ex-boyfriend, according to police reports.

James Howell, 20, was arrested by Santa Monica Police on Sunday, just hours after the deadliest mass shooting in US history at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

According to police, Howell was arrested after a neighbor reported a suspicious person. Inside his car, police found “three assault rifles, high capacity magazines and ammunition. Additionally, officers discovered a 5 gallon bucket with chemicals capable of forming an improvised explosive device.”

Howell is from Clark County, Indiana and has a criminal history. In October 2015, he was charged with intimidation and pointing a firearm. According to court records, Howell threatened his neighbors in Charlestown. One neighbor told police, “this is not the first time James has pulled a gun on someone.” Another neighbor stated she heard him yell, “I will shoot you.” Howell entered a plea agreement on those charges in 2015 and was sentenced to probation. He was asked to give up all guns. Charlestown Police said his guns were turned over to his father.

Police said Howell did not live in Charlestown for very long, but they are shocked to hear he was involved in the incident in Santa Monica.

“It was a bit of a surprise to see that the individual had ties to our community was down there and what they found him with, with hopes that his intentions weren’t to harm anyone. We hope that,” Charlestown Police Chief Keith McDonald said.

Howell is also listed in a host of other police reports, many of them related to domestic disturbances with his ex-boyfriend, a 17-year-old Charleston resident. The teen spoke to FOX59, but doesn’t want his identity revealed. He said he and Howell met on a dating app and there was an “instant connection.” It wasn’t long though, before the teen discovered Howell’s violent tendencies.

One report was filed October 11, 2015 when Howell called the teen’s workplace. Howell allegedly threatened the teen and other employees saying he would kill everyone.

Another incident happened October 14, 2015 when reports state the teen went to Howell’s home on Winthrope Avenue to get his belongings. The teen stated Howell pointed a rifle at him. No charges were filed.

On October 15, 2015, just hours before Howell’s arrest in Clark County, police were called for threatening text messages between Howell and the teen. The two were advised by police to not speak to each other. The teen says that was the last time he spoke to to Howell.

“He would explode violently like that and do things with his guns so it didn’t really surprise me,” the teen said after learning of Howell’s arrest in California.

“He’s out there with explosives and all these guns, but who carries all these guns in a car and goes to a gay pride event?” the teen added.

He said he wasn’t sure why Howell was heading to L.A. Police in Santa Monica said Howell stated he was heading to the Gay Pride Parade in L.A. Howell’s ex-boyfriend said he didn’t know if he would go there to harm anyone.

“I felt more at ease when I knew that he was in custody. I said, ‘well maybe somebody will finally do something,’ ” the teen said.

When the pair broke up, the teen said Howell was trying to find him. He claimed he was hiding at his parents home and was afraid to go outside, because he knew Howell was violent.

“Oh, my God. I can’t believe I was with somebody like that. I can’t believe that I wasted a month and a half of my life with someone like that,” the teen said. He added, “I do feel lucky. He could have hurt me even worse than he already did.”

Howell’s family attorney Bobby Boyd stated the following:

“The family is certainly struggling with this as would be expected. As I said, they’re happy that he’s safe and they’re fully cooperating with the investigation at this point. This has been a roller coaster ride for the family. They’re certainly shocked and incredibly concerned about their son at this point.”

Howell has not yet been formally charged in Santa Monica. His first court appearance in Tuesday.

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