Indiana man considered “significant public safety danger” after Calif. arrest charged in child molest case

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James Howell

CLARK COUNTY, Ind.—An Indiana man arrested in California after police found weapons and explosives in his vehicle was charged today in a child molestation case out of Clark County, Indiana.

James Wesley Howell, 20, was charged with one count of child molesting in the case involving a 12-year-old girl. The incident was reported to authorities by the girl’s mother on June 2.

Yesterday, Clark County officials said Howell was a suspect in an ongoing investigation of alleged sexual assault that occurred in Clark County on May 31. Court documents released today reveal details into the incident.

According to court documents, Howell was friends with the 12-year-old girl’s brother. The brother’s girlfriend told authorities she confronted Howell about the incident. She reported Howell told her he was a “sociopath with an automatic” and he would take out anybody, including the cops, if they tried to come to his house and arrest him, stated court papers.

Tuesday, the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office announced charges against Howell regarding his arrest Sunday in Santa Monica.

He faces one felony count each of unlawful possession of an assault weapon, possession of a destructive device on a public street, manufacturing or importing large magazine and carrying a loaded firearm in a vehicle. If he’s convicted, he faces up to nine years and eight months.

According to court documents, officers recovered a 25-pound container, three-fifths full of Shoc-Shot, a “binary explosive,” in his car, according to a statement from Santa Monica police Detective Derek Leone, supporting prosecutors’ request to increase Howell’s bail amount.

A judge has set Howell’s bail at $2 million, saying he poses “a significant public safety danger.”

“The amount of explosives in the container would have posted a grave danger to both persons and property had the explosives been detonated, either intentionally or accidentally, in a public space,” Leone said.

Howell also had three rifles in the car, Leone said, including an Anderson Manufacturing AM-15 .223-caliber rifle loaded with a 30-round detachable magazine with a second 30-round magazine taped to it. He also had a loaded, .30-06-caliber bolt-action rifle and a .22-caliber Ruger semi-automatic rifle, according to the document.

Authorities also found a Taser, handcuffs, a buck knife, a security badge, a black hoodie, more ammunition and a 5-gallon container of gasoline.

“Based on this combination of materials, it is my opinion that the defendant poses a significant danger to the community,” Leone said.

Howell was arrested by Santa Monica Police on Sunday, just hours after the deadliest mass shooting in US history at a gay nightclub in Orlando. Authorities say Howell stated he was on his way to the L.A. Gay Pride festival.

Howell is 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.

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